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. m T

    Dear Fred, please go back to lobbying for Libya.

    October 25, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. EB Rideoue,

    I swear, that young bride must be doin' something to mess up this guy's head.................

    October 25, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Joe Vanderbosch, Appleton, WI

    I wonder if during this speech, did "good old boy" Fred get a little tired and take a nap, I'm sure he atleast had to yawn. Campaigning seems like its a real hard thing for him to do.

    October 25, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    Senator Fred Flintsone – he shoots and scores again!

    October 25, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Darko, New Orleans LA

    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.

    No, they're having so much trouble because of the bullcrap PC/media/congressional noose that's been placed on our military.

    If they'd let the boys actually fight, this would have been over years ago.

    October 25, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Darko, New Orleans LA

    "Now they're talking about nuking Iran for oil and Israel."

    Where do you people get this crap???

    Sanctions DO NOT EQUAL war. They are means to AVOID IT.

    October 25, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Fred Thompson, Bluffton SC

    Hey! Those kids blew up my stretch limo!

    October 25, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Steve, Washington, DC

    Perhaps Mr Thompson needs to see this film.


    Showing in DC and NY now.

    October 25, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Perry St. Louis, MO

    Lawd, Jesus!

    This man is actually ludicrous and vapid enough to become the next president of the U. S. !

    October 25, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Gary, Boston USA

    All they need is a good old fashioned spankin' !

    October 25, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. USAF Vet, Georgia

    Hey, who invited this doofus?

    He makes it sound like it's a bunch of bored teenagers throwing rocks at stray dogs. What does he propose, grounding them for staying out late on a school night?

    These "kids" are highly trained, well-organized, highly motivated, well-financed, and extremely dangerous. If it were just a bunch of kids, our "kids" would have been home long ago.

    October 25, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. Doremus Jessup

    THINK ABOUT IT – anyone under 50 is a "kid" to Fred. Anyhow, of the many ugly aspects of war, one harsh reality from the beginning of time is that children, ok, teenagers and young adults are the primary fighters and casualties. Taken with the civilian children killed and maimed, of course thousands of children are victims of the insane aspirations of guttless psuedo-leaders like our current maniac and pending neo-con wannabe's.

    October 25, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Song, OKC , ok

    If the US was true fighting kids in Iraq, you got a more serious question to ask yourself then just "we are going to look bad losing to a bunch of kids" more like what the hell are we doing there if even kids are willing to fight us to the death.

    October 25, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Dee, Nebraska

    This guy is an insult to every intelligent, red pick-up drivin' American. Get off the stage dude, you're embarassing me!

    October 25, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Brock, Dallas, TX

    Thompson should know a lot about IEDs. After all, he's a dud.

    October 25, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    So are the Republicans going to get up in arms about this comment? Yeah right. Can you imagine the foaming at the mouth if a Democrat said this?

    This is not the first time that Thompson has revealed what an oaf he is.

    October 25, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. bill, Phoenix, AZ

    Those "kids" are getting their weapons and money for America's greatest enemy, SAUDI ARABIA. You know the country that almost all of the 9/11 killers were from and best friends of the bush crime family.

    And Bob in Seattle, where are you stationed in Iraq? Oh that's right, Republithugs are all show and NO GO. So your opinion means NOTHING. All Republithugs need to report to their Army recuiter's office until then, STFU with "your" good news.

    October 25, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. C in Kansas City, Missouri

    Fred, I didn't think you could be a bigger jerk but then there you go and open your pie hole again.

    Your John Wayne attitude is embarassing.

    October 25, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Nashville Neddie

    Barely worth commenting on – just wanted to see my signature cuz it's simpleminded, just like Freddie and his Repugnantcan fasci-friends.

    "Two peanuts were walking down the street and one was asalted."

    October 25, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  20. Brian P. Lenac, Everett, WA State

    Thompson said: "Saddam lured everybody into believing he had weapons of mass destruction." Am I really reading this?? Which chemical weapons, the ones we SOLD him to fight Iran with? What year is it–1984?

    Kim, I would submit that the Bush administration HAS read the Art of War, and understands it well. Those in PNAC and our current leaders may be globalist hawks, but they are not stupid. These people were salivating over invading Iraq in order to occupy and divide the country years before 9-11 took place. That's not my opinion, it's documented history. The documents don't lie, though neo-cons do often.

    The secondary goal (my opinion this time) was to entice Iran into a confrontation in order to topple their government–round two since we already toppled their elected government once after WW2. Go google it, or go to the CIA website, they brag about it there.

    Perhaps when thousands of our children are being drafted to fight the ground war in Iran, good Americans will being to realize how severely we have been duped, and quit defending these liars.

    October 25, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. Lisla Lee, Dallas, TX

    This guy is such a joke.
    Note to GOP bigwigs– you really need to go have a heart to heart with Fred and tell him it's time for him to drop out of this race!! He is embarassing the party!

    October 25, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  22. dan, Reality, USA

    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.

    Posted By Bob, Seattle, WA : October 25, 2007 12:35 pm

    CAREFUL. Righties will continuously peddle tired, pathetic talking points. The most tired and pathetic of which is that Dems don't want us to succeed in Iraq. It's a stupid talking point peddled by stupid people.

    October 25, 2007 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. TC, Portland OR

    So Thompson knows why we've lost nearly 4,000 troops over in Iraq.
    It's those darn kids.

    October 25, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Calling Iraqi insurgents "kids with IEDs" is like saying no harm can be done by a monkey with a loaded gun. Bush screwed us royally; I don't want to be driven further into the ground! We've lost enough soldiers as it is!

    October 25, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Paul C. Palmetto Bay, FL

    Thompson is a grown man and can whip a bunch of kids...Right?
    Sign him up and he will have this war over by Christmas.

    October 25, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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