October 25th, 2007
05:45 PM ET
8 years ago

Thompson: Iraqi insurgents 'a bunch of kids' with IEDs

Watch Thompson's comments Wednesday.

BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - At a campaign stop in South Carolina Wednesday, Fred Thompson said that the Iraqi insurgency is made up of "a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," and suggested that the appearance of losing to such an enemy would harm U.S. national security.

Thompson was confronted about Iraq by a Bluffton resident named Bernhard Steinhouse, who asked Thompson whether he would bring back U.S. forces from the country.

"We will not be a safer country, we will not be a safer America if the whole world watches us being defeated by a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," Thompson said.

Roadside bombs are one of the leading causes of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Thompson's comments drew criticism from Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and senator from Delaware who has made funding mine-resistant combat vehicles a signature of his Senate efforts over the last year.

"If Sen. Thompson believes that we are fighting 'a bunch of kids,' he is totally divorced from reality," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "He should come back to Iraq with me and talk to our soldiers who are in the middle of a civil war between lethal militias or fighting the Bush-fulfilling prophecy of al Qaeda in Iraq or being blown up by IEDs."

Thompson did not say under what circumstances troops would be able to leave Iraq. He said that as of now, U.S. forces are succeeding in securing the country, a shared sentiment among all of the Republican presidential frontrunners, mainly by Sen. John McCain. He noted that things could change.

"As of right now, and circumstances will be different six months from now, a year from now, but as of right now, we're finally getting good news out of there, we're getting good news," said Thompson, who added that having a U.S.
presence in Iraq is crucial to freezing out the influence of Iran and Iranian-linked Hezbollah.

"They sent General Petraeus down there for a reason," he said. "They shouldn't have sent him down there if it was just a matter of saying, 'OK, you're doing a lot better, but we're going to declare defeat and bring you home.' I don't think that makes us safer."

Thompson told Steinhouse "we didn't know what we were facing" when we went into Iraq.

"Saddam lured everybody into believing he had weapons of mass destruction, which he had had previously, no question about it, he had used them against his own people," Thompson said.

Earlier this month in Iowa, Thompson raised eyebrows by telling a crowd that Saddam "clearly had had WMD" and that "he clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program." He later clarified that he was referring to Saddam's use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Ryan, New York, NY

    Oops, one of the scriptwriters should have thought about this comment before allowing Fred to make it. You would think that Thompson would want to distance himself from killing kids.

    October 25, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Bob, Seattle, WA

    CAREFUL. The DEMS don't want to hear any good news coming out of Iraq. News of any success in Iraq could spell the death knoll for the messenger.

    October 25, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Kim, Peabody MA

    What a very naïve statement from a Presidential Candidate. These KIDS are being trained, supplied, financed, and provided logistics from IRAN. Technically, we have kids (as young as 18 years old) that are also highly trained and skilled within our military who are fighting in Iraq.

    We need a President that FIRST understands that we are fighting a very clever, very determine, and well supported enemy – before we can provide any strategic solution to the battlefield.

    I like what Pete Grasso has to say about this subject. We need to involve our allies within that region to defeat this enemy. We need an exit strategy that WE control the execution as it aligns to our strategy to WIN, without being influenced by our enemies that are both Domestic (including some of our leadership) and Abroad.

    We need a President that will take command like Pete Grasso.

    Check out “Why are We Negotiating with the Enemy?”


    October 25, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Corbett, Seattle WA

    Thanks Thompson! So our troops are engaged in deadly contact with a bunch of "kids" with overpowered firecrackers, and that is why the most powerful army in the world is having so much trouble. Why don't you tell that to a platoon coming back from Baghdad.

    October 25, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Trollmaster, CA

    So this is just one more security threat that would have never existed if we didn't invade Iraq in the first place.

    Why should America vote for a party that is creating threats to America that never existed?

    And how does Thompson plan to fight a war that 70% of Americans are opposed to and the other 30% don't have the courage to enlist and fight for their beliefs? Someone needs to ask Thompson that.

    October 25, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Will, NYC

    Typical Grandpa Thompson, too lazy to come up with any constructive solution to the problem. Too much work! He'd rather sit at home with his trophy wife than campaign.

    October 25, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. pat huntington ny

    This guy has no idea what's going on over there...kids? Come on...it's worse than that. How anyone can support this bafoon is real tragedy.

    October 25, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. SEP, Phoenix AZ

    This guy lives in La-La Land.

    October 25, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. roger, conway sc

    Fred needs to call Dick or GW and let them fill him in on what is happening with the war since they invaded a country by telling lies and are responsible for the entire world hating us...Fred sounds like a dud..

    October 25, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. summus

    This is an outrage of misinformation. I though we already killed all of the Iraqi kids. How could there still be some running around with IEDs. I want my money back!

    October 25, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. T. Tim, Little, SD

    Go back to real acting, Thompson, because that's what you're doing as a politician. And speaking of "kids," your political analysis of the insurgents is
    wildly immature and naive. Idiotic too. We need someone with brains to be President, not your

    October 25, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. Ryan Indianapolis

    So true Fred so true.....All the liberals care about is would this be a defeat for GW they dont care about what this would do to the country and inspire the enemy, Liberals only care about SELF and it shines thru thru

    October 25, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Andrew, NJ

    more Bush rhetoric..."Stay the course"

    what a fool.

    October 25, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Fred Thompson, Bluffton SC

    You kids get off my lawn.

    October 25, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Newagegop, Melbourne FL

    Oh noes a republican said kids got bombs. Never mind that kids have blown themselves up over there (under 18), and that it would be embarrasing if we lose to them. Never mind that all older people call our solders boys/kids. Heck my grandfather calls me a kid and I'm in my 30's. He was in the Korean war btw and I was in the USAF. Fred is the man.

    October 25, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Christian, Tampa FL

    Those are some bad kids, and all of our efforts to spank them haven't exactly gone through as we would hope.

    In all seriousness... Let's not be stupid about this. They are much more than "kids with IEDs" and national security is not going to be helped by us wasting a lot of military equipment and resources that could otherwise be used on real national defense.

    October 25, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. DefendTheConstitution

    What a crock. This guy is totally unfit to be anywhere near a presidential election. The same goes for the other NeoCon loons that now want war with Iran. You've already destroyed Iraq for oil and Israel. You've already killed thousands of US soldiers for oil and Israel. You've already killed even more innocent Iraqis for oil and Israel. Now they're talking about nuking Iran for oil and Israel. Meanwhile the US is going bankrupt and can't secure it's own borders. The really sad thing is that the average American thinks the USA is A-OK! You can thank CNN for that.

    October 25, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Kim, Midland, MI

    He needs to read the Art of War -clearly no one in the Bush administration has ever heard of this book.

    ALL the classic mistakes were made. It's almost as if someone read the book and then consciously decided to do all the wrong things, it's hard to imagine that our leaders managed to stumble into every bad situation described.

    So Fred, they might be a bunch of kids, but appartently THEY READ THE BOOK!

    October 25, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Brendan, Seattle, WA

    Fred Thompson is the picture of arrogance and a complete disregard for the well-being of the American People.

    October 25, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. A Real US Marine, Ann Arbor, MI

    He's just another republican who didnt serve. Now he wants to be Commander in Chief? Mybe if he served he would have a better grip on reality.

    October 25, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. RB, from the bay state

    Aw, Geez, another "Bring 'em on" moment from a GOP crackpot.

    And if they're just "kids", why have they got the US up it's neck in quicksand?

    Will these fools like Fred and Bush ever learn to just SHUT UP?

    October 25, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Fred Thompson, Bluffton SC

    You kids get those IEDs off my lawn.

    October 25, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Ballbright

    What absolute and utter foolish nonsense. I am a soldier and have been to Iraq, this idiot just lost what tiny modicum of respect I had for him before.

    October 25, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. D

    "Fred Thompson Says US Troops Only Fighting 'Kids' in Iraq"

    Nice, Fred. That will get you a lot of fans among the US military.

    October 25, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    In all fairness, someone in their 60's would probably still be considered a "kid" in Fred's eyes.

    And to Kim who said this:
    "These KIDS are being trained, supplied, financed, and provided logistics from IRAN."

    You care to back that up with evidence instead of talking points? I love how wingers just say the most off the wall BS and adhere to it like gospel because it supports their warmongering agenda. Again, please find PROOF that Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents...that's a very serious charge and not one you can just pull out of the air like, oh...WMDs or something.

    October 25, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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