November 6th, 2007
06:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Thompson to Romney: 'You can't buy South Carolina'

Romney and Thompson faced off at Thompson's first debate appearance with the Republican field.

FORT MILL, South Carolina (CNN) - Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney Tuesday of trying to buy his way into the hearts of South Carolina's Republican primary voters.

"Apparently a lot of people think if they spend a lot of money they can put a little different cast on things," Thompson told a crowd of supporters in this town near the North Carolina border. "Now, the governor of Massachusetts has apparently spent $20 million dollars of his own personal fortune, and apparently a good chunk of that in South Carolina. All I got to say is: governor, you can't buy South Carolina. You can't even rent South Carolina."

Romney has built up a considerable ground game in South Carolina and hired some of the state’s top political consultants. He is also the first and only Republican running television ads in this state.

“Support from voters is earned though hard work and new ideas. Unfortunately for Fred Thompson, he has never shown any passion for either," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Tuesday, responding to Thompson's comments.

"Governor Romney is working hard across South Carolina to build a great team of supporters that continues to grow. His support is the result of reaching out to voters and showing them that he has the vision the experience and the values to lead America. The governor is going to keep holding the town halls, continue his travels all over the state and he's going to keep talking about his plan to bring conservative change to Washington,” Madden added.

Thompson, who tackled the flashpoint conservative issues of illegal immigration and gay marriage in his speech, suggested Romney has shifted his positions to suit the temperament of conservative, Southern voters.

"If there's one thing I want the people of South Carolina and the people of Tennessee and the people of this country to say about Fred Thompson when this is over with, is that no matter what, where he stands does not depend on where he's standing at any given time," Thompson said to applause. "Where I stand is where I always stood."

He added, "Fred is Fred. That ain't gonna change."

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • Mitt Romney • South Carolina
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Venn SLC, Utah

    Buyer's remorse later?

    November 7, 2007 12:48 am at 12:48 am |

    No Hillary is doing that with all her raked in money

    November 7, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  3. David Oceanside,CA

    Ron Paul is going to win anyway.
    Give it up.
    Polls dont reflect the average American who will vote this time because a normal NON Corrupt candidate like Ron Paul is finally running a winning campaign.

    November 7, 2007 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  4. Hugh DePayen

    Anyone who buys into Mitt is a fool. He's nothing more than some old rich white dude who's trying to buy his way into the White House.

    If he makes it into the White House it will be buisness as usual. He's going to grind the middle class under his expensive heel. So go ahead and vote for him and lets see how long it will be before he grinds us all deeper into the ground.

    November 7, 2007 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  5. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    I will admit that Fred is more ambling for office than running ... but Mitt bought the Iowa straw poll with BBQ and free food ... why change now?

    As for people liking him, I suggest you talk to the people of Massachusetts, who elected one man who "evolved" into someone completely different – and barely spent any time doing his elected job as governor in that state because he was working on his White House run ...

    Mitt's putting in huge amounts of his own money which means he's not getting support from the people he says he represents. He really lost my vote when he stood there, head bowed, while one of the Evangelicals lambasted his Morman religion in exchange for their votes. He must have some core values but right now, he just looks like he's "for sale."

    November 7, 2007 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  6. Robert, Shelton, CT

    I am not with Fred, but I agree with him that Romney is buying up voters in three primary states; how muh of his own wealth will he pump into the campaign, 50 million? more?

    November 7, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  7. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Thompson, go home, have a shot, and then take a reality pill. Romney has shown that he is willing to work in order to get nominated. You wont be nominated because you choose to ride the coattails of others without any fresh ideas of your own.
    I personally despise Romney, and all Republicans for that matter, but if I had to pick one, I'd take Romney over Thompson any day.

    November 7, 2007 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  8. Andre' J. Perrin, Richardson, TX

    Didn't Fred by Tennessee?

    November 7, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. Karen,ny

    There is another example of a weak candidate. Romney is talking with his hand and Thompson is just standing there with his hands behind his back. All of these candidates are a bunch of laid back -tell the people what they want to hear and then in the end it is all lies.

    November 7, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Dave, Denton, Texas

    Think what you will about Romney (even though I believe he is the most qualified person to be President of the United States), but the Thompson reality has not come close to living up to the hype.

    November 7, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Steve, Sumter SC

    Fred, you may be correct however, without any ideas you cannot WIN South Carolina or any other state!

    November 7, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |

    Under Romney administration in MA, a woman on her way to Logan airport died, when a brick collapsed from the tunnel. If Romney cannot manage a state, how can he lead the world? No comments on Fred...he should be in Hollywood...

    November 7, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Travis

    Ouch Fred, getting kicked around in the South by a Mormon Northerner! If you can't win in S.C. you can't win anywhere. Apparently you can't "drawl" voters either.

    November 7, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Terry, El Paso, TX

    The photo atop this blog depicts a confrontation between corporate conservatism and social conservatism.

    Corporatists believe that giant corporations should be unrestricted by law, untaxed, and totally self-governed. They see labor (us) as a cost to be reduced, like the electric bill or the gas bill. They will lead us to a world in which 1% of the people have all the real wealth, employees are chattel, the middle class has disappeared, and governments do as they are told.

    Social conservatives are basically evangelicals and fundamentalists. They talk to God and God talks to them. They believe that their strange lifestyle, invented a couple of decades ago, is the really real truely true one-and-only philosophy of life. Their leadership is rife with corruption and of questionable mental stability. Their issues are sex and dirty words. They don't want any sexual activity of any kind outside of marriage, no references to sex in movies and literature, no sexy dresses for women, no movement of the hips during dance, no birth control, no abortion, no sex education, and they support cervical cancer for their daughters. They don't like cuss words and they want them outlawed. They are anti-education, anti-science, anti-evolution, anti-progress, and anti-research. They believe that they and only they are the godly and anything that is not of them is of Satan.

    These two dark philosophies are a much greater threat to the nation than Osama bin Laden.

    November 7, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Darko, New Orleans LA


    I assume you're including the dem candidates with that statment, yes?

    November 7, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Dan, Honolulu, HI

    If Thompson weren’t so lazy, he would have made a lot of money too, and wouldn’t have been in a position to make such an impetuous accusation about Romney.

    November 7, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. Dan Schaupp, Lancaster, SC

    The problem with you Fred is that you think that all you have to do is show up in S. Carolina and declare "I am here". How pompus is that? It time to get mud on your feet and start telling us why you think you should be President. Good luck.

    November 8, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Paul

    Romney is very much like New England weather, if you don't like it wait a minute. He will say ANYTHING and spend any amount. He is narcissistic and has no real ideals whatsover. It is all about him.

    November 8, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Justin, Indy IN

    MR Romney is going to buy the white house and paint it green.

    Thompson is going to tell us what should be done.

    sounds great for America.

    November 8, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Health E-cigarette

    This post couldnt be more right on

    October 9, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
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