September 22nd, 2007
04:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Thompson: Not all campaign finance reform was good

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson

(CNN)–Former Senator Fred Thompson says he still stands by his support of campaign finance reform when he was in the Senate..sort of.

Speaking to local reporters in Michigan on Saturday, Thompson said he was proud of his efforts to curb soft money donations, the large, unregulated amounts of money that flooded into the coffers of campaigns and political parties. "I came from the real world where it was a bad idea to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone who had decision making power over you," the GOP presidential hopeful said.

"The part that has not worked out and really was a mistake were the attempts to place limitations on campaign ads in certain parts of the process," the former 'Law & Order' actor said. "The Supreme Court has got better things to do then to hear a hundred different cases on a hundred different kinds of ads," he said of a process he feels has spawned a large amount of bureaucracy, diverted resources, and put "unfair limitations" on people. "I don't think that part of it was a good idea."

Thompson has come under criticism and suspicion from some conservative activists for his role as a supporter in the senate of legislation sponsored by Senators John McCain of Arizona, and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, that sought to regulate soft money donations. Many activists equated the legislation as an assault on political free speech.

Thompson was in Michigan to address a GOP conference on Mackinac Island.

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Fred Thompson • John McCain • Political ads • Race to '08
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Mr Thompson,
    You had your career as an actor. You also had a career as a politician. Is it time yet to start saying you also had a go at being a candidate?

    September 22, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Steve

    This is the typical campaign financing obfuscation.

    The ONLY way this country gets back to semi-normal is to have PUBLIC FINANCING of campaigns.

    Suddenly, EVERY candidate gets EXACTLY the same amount of TV and other media time.

    The campaign season is FAR shorter, 'cause with public financing, there won't be as much money available.

    Which is a good thing, reducing the influence of big, well-financed organizations buying candidates to help them later.

    For those that say, "This violates freedom of speech," I say, B.S.

    Right now, the ordinary individual citizen has no chance to be heard; not with all that money around to interest candidates. THEY'RE the ones losing their free speech rights. Who, really, gives a damn if the disgustingly rich organizations, left or right, get their "rights" stepped on?

    You have to decide ultimately what's more important: that every citizen participate in a national election, or that big groups with lots of money and special favors needed from the candidates they support?

    Do you enjoy the fact that the prez campaign now starts TWO YEARS before the damn election? I hate it. I hate that every candidate spends more time raising money then doing their job, if they're an incumbent. Public financing would eliminate that as well.

    September 22, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. Sherry AllOver Texas

    Is this old coot still around? Someone needs to put him out of our misery. Go away Fred. Leave this race to the candidates with cajones enough to actually attend debates and not duck issues... When asked his opinion on the Jena 6 case he said he had not heard of it... what a crock. Go back to acting ya two bit lobbyist.

    September 22, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. I've Seen Your Number All Over Texas Sherry

    Sherry said, "Someone needs to put him out of our misery."

    Congradulations! Mental midgets who cross the line that far receive a special visit from the Secret Service. You might as well bake some cookies now and put on your best sane face or take a 72 hour vacation...Idiot!

    September 22, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. G.E.D> Jackson TN

    As long as buisnesses and organizations can contribute large sums to election campains they will exert some form of power and control over the candidates. This has been the means in which campaigns have been financed in the past.

    Look at the contrubitions to candidates made just prior to the new banking laws and policies, they virtually eliminated credit unions and raised all kinds of new fees. I.E. account inactivity fees. If you dont make some kind of transaction within a set amount of time and recieve a penalty fee LARGER THAN YOUR INTEREST FEES. ( There goes Juniors college savings from his paper route and lawn mowing services)

    The the elections prior to the major medical and insurance changes, Most of the changes were not for the insureds favor but financally beneficial for the companies.

    Recently, check out the energy companies, and their contrubitions.

    Enough Said.

    DO NOTE THIS,, the finance problemb is across the boards BOTH PARTIES,

    although i didnt necessarily see the republican parties accepting large anonymous sums of monies from buddist temples and overseas organizations WHO I cannot for the life of me, See what our elections have in common with their interest.

    Both parties abuse this system. At least Fred and McCain, Feingold both have enough brass anatomy features to address these abuses.

    You have to give credit due to where its deserved. What was a just attempt correct what was wrong within the system may have been flawed. The right thing isnt always popular. To address such takes character and courage. which is more than i can say for most of the field of candidates.

    September 22, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. Seekster, Arlington, TX

    A man has a right to be wrong but what is impressive is that this man is running for President of the United States and yet he is not above admitting when he is wrong. When was the last time you heard that from any other candidate?

    Vote Fred Thompson 2008 and 2012!!!

    September 22, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. laurinda,ny

    Fred, Ron, Arnold, all were actors. I say we take the Hollywood out of politics. Once an actor always an actor. We have had almost eight years of acting Republicans with a C student playing the role of a president. It is like a horror movie, Nightmare on Pennsylvania Ave., starring G.W Bush

    September 22, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Internet Police

    To I've Seen Your Number All Over Texas Sherry..That statement you made is a form of harrassment. We shall not threaten other people. It is a privledge for you to express your warped views. Do it again and you will be eating your cookies in the cell next to her.

    September 22, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. Will - Miami, Fl

    In other words, he was FOR campaign finance reform before he was against it (and before running for President and wishing he could get more money from his old pals from his lobbying days)...

    Ron Paul 2008!!!

    September 22, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I was so anxious to hear what Fred would have to say...then...he spoke...and I wished he would of had a different message – more right wing politics. Republicans...if he or anyone except Giuliani win – we are sunk – NOBODY WANTS RIGHT WINGERS ANYMORE – we need a MODERATE!!!! Giuliani is the ONLY ONE RUNNING in either party – we need a socail liberal and fiscal conservative – and no...I don't care that he was divorced twice....thats the right wing issue...Dems are most concerned about him...he is a moderate – there will be Dems who jump over too...after all – Moderate are exactly the same in either party...fiscally conservative..and socially liberal – I would guess the independents think the same too...Rudy will win in 2008..there is no doubt..none

    September 22, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  11. Sherry AllOver Texas

    Hey, I've seen your number..... you call me a mental midget and then you misspell "congratulations"... CLASSIC!! I'm sorry if I hurt your iddy, biddy feelings when I said your boyfriend was an old coot. Sometimes the truth hurts. When you grow up you'll understand. Oh, and I baked those cookies and I've been waiting all day... exactly when are the big scary secret service guys supposed to get here anyway? Like that's all they have to do all day, ya jagkoff!
    P.S. This just in...
    Fred Thompson still blows... film at eleven.

    September 22, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. Laughin' at Darwin's Nominee

    To Internet Police;

    If you had been a LEO you would not only know that statement is exactly true for even indirect death threats of a POTUS candidate but also, you wouldn't even pretend to protect one that did. As a very few cops may even be on the take but, rarely could you find one that's both ignorant of the law and a disloyal poster child for a prophylactic.

    Although you may spell like one, that is not an affirmative defense where you can still be charged with impersonating an officer.

    AND no, you can't have the cell next to her, that's not the way the correctional system works.

    Don't take my word for it, explain what you did to any officer and he'll help you right out.

    September 22, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Chris,you just said Rudy WAS a conservative on a different blog!Stop drinking.Rudy is not a conservative,he just plays one on TV.If people like you don't get on the horn and make him come clean,he's toast.He can get elected in the future if he holds his cards now.It's going to take longer than he's got though to pull it off in 08.

    September 22, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  14. trish, hickory, nc

    This type of dialogue is why our country is failing; the electorate is too busy distracting itself with rhetoric. We need to pay attention to the real issues.

    September 23, 2007 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  15. GED Jackson TN

    Just to set the record straight, Fred was a lawyer first, and a good one, who through character and integrity within his profession brought to justice a number of government officials. He was given the opportunity to ACT because of his actions as a lawyer, his first acting job was a job acting as himself. Since he was so good at acting like himself and conveys a image of sincerity in doing so, he has been awarded other opportunities to act. I personally find that no crime.

    September 23, 2007 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  16. Ron Nebraska

    Sherry from Texas.........I really really like you! Keep it up darlin,you have the type of honesty I like to hear.

    September 23, 2007 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  17. Fred Thompson Fan, Buffalo NY

    Fred Thompson rocked at Mackinac Island!

    Discuss Fred Thompson at the Biggest Fred Thompson Forum on the Net!

    Fred Thompson Forum

    September 23, 2007 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  18. laurinda,ny

    LAUGH IN AT DARWIN'S NOMINEE, Well I see you have been involved with one of those learn a profession from home degrees. Now you have two counts of harassment. You can not go around making threats against people because they have a different opinion than you. For your information, you can not bring cookies to jail with you, That is called contraband.

    September 23, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  19. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Ed – re-read – all my blogs say that we need a moderate....a fiscal conservative and social liberal – and yes...Giuliani is that....he does not pander to the right like all the other Republicans....and he is not a socialist like Hillary....he so has my can choose to jump on the "what excuse will I make for Hillary today" bandwagon....not me. Lets say that 5% of the stuff posted about Hillary is true....that makes her untrustworthy....and not the right candidate....for anything....I heard she lived in Arkansas..then purchased a piece of property in NY...and then called herself a New Yorker...and they bought it...those buffoons!!

    September 23, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  20. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    That's OK, not all presidential candidates are good either.

    If Fred can't cope with the rules, he should get out of the game.

    But above all, he needs to stop whining.

    September 23, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. Scott Wilmington Oh

    Sherry you rock. Whats your sign?

    September 23, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Chuck, NC

    Check out the new hit piece on Fred Thompson, including a few things the media never talks about. To read it go to

    September 24, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Bert

    I think there's too much money in Washington, period, to the point where it's almost pointless to vote. They
    can campaign all they want, and accuse each other of fraud, theft, conspiracy,
    skulduggery, and crimes unspeakable, all makes for good political theater,
    but you basically seem to end up with Corporate Tool A vs. Corporate Tool B,
    at the end of the day, with a side helping of government doughnuts to the masses...does your vote REALLY count, if corporate entities 'participate'? Methinks not...where's the People's
    issues, like abolishing the national
    debt, getting Exxon out of our
    government, stuff like that? Public
    accountability, more focus on science
    and literacy, and less ring-kissing
    with the foreign royalty etc? Who
    do you vote for if you want to
    see whatever it is they're calling
    'defense' to be audited and probably
    halved? Who is it you're supposed to
    vote for if you think that professional
    lobbying groups should be abolished?
    I read that some of these guys are
    taking their campaigns global. What's
    up with that, running for Planetary
    President, or what, there? Interesting
    times we live in...

    September 25, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  24. Dixie

    My God! Chewbaca is running for President! Fred Chewbaca Thomson.

    And this man had the nerve to "laugh" at an intellectual Statesman like Ron Paul?

    Please, let me verify this cadaver is steal alive....."CLEAR!"

    January 9, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |