December 4th, 2007
04:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Thompson: Don't let the government tell you what to eat

Thompson campaigned in South Carolina Tuesday.

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CNN) - Fred Thompson wants the government to keep its hands off your dinner plate.

That's what he told a questioner Tuesday in South Carolina, anyway.

Standing about 15 feet away from a mouth-watering steam tray buffet loaded with fried chicken, creamed corn and macaroni and cheese at Wade's Southern Cooking in Spartanburg, Thompson dismissed the idea that preventative care and wellness education should be central features of a government's health care system.

"I'm telling you, I don’t think that it’s the primary responsibility of the federal government to tell you what to eat," Thompson said to applause when asked if his health care plan included any details on preventative care, a priority for Democratic candidates.

"The fact of the matter is we got an awful lot of knowledge,” said the former Tennessee senator. “Sometimes we don’t have a whole lot of will power, and I don’t know of any government program that's going to instill that."

Thompson, ever a fan of small government, said healthy living should be the responsibilities of families first.

"We shouldn’t be looking at the federal government in Washington first and working our way down, it ought to be just the other way around. With that, or whether you're talking about education, there's some things the federal government can't do," said Thompson.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Klee Omaha

    Fred Thompson is a LOAD. I'm already tired of looking at his ugly face and his sidekick, um, wife?

    December 5, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Jeff, Nashville, TN

    As usual the liberal give me my government crutch crowd so that I do not have to be responsible for myself or my family speaks up. Beautiful comments from NY and CA keep them coming so we can be reminded why we need people like Sen Thompson. Sen. Thompson was saying that we should take care of ourselves first but instead we expect the government to do it for us.

    December 5, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Santa

    Bradley: Your obesity study that you cite is flawed and based on BMI. When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lawrence Tayler were in their athletic primes, their body mass index scores would have labelled them as obese. Look at pictures of them. If you think they were obese, you need either a trip to the optometrist for new glasses or a trip to the therapist to deal with body image issues. BMI is not a great measure of overall health or obesity. Body fat percentage however is a mature science and a much more accurate measure of obesity, but it is more costly and takes a lot more time to execute.

    December 5, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. Bill, SC

    Fred isn't showing up in NH because his strategy doesn't include it. It's delegates he wants, and he apparently wants SC's. And we sould teach our kids to brush their teeth etc.... individually, not from government, but as parents and guardians.

    December 5, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Publius, Newport News, VA

    Fred Thompson is exactly right. It is not a proper role of government to monitor what we eat. Beware Democrats looking to control our lives in the guise of "preventative care." Their agenda is to get us all dependant on the government for health care and then have the government dictate how we live our lives in the guise of "preventative care." This dictatorial agenda is dangerous and ominous, and Mr. Thompson is right to reject it.

    December 5, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. James Beam, Greeley, CO

    Thompson is right. By what right can the Gummint force you to eat some things but not others. That's too Orwellian.

    December 5, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Tony Gottlieb Nashville, TN

    What's so telling always about the criticism toward Fred Thompson is how it is always so lacking in substance. Should the US Government be telling people what to eat? What I suspect Thompson's edging towards, and ever so diplomatically, is that he doesn't believe government should carry the health care expense for individuals with no self control over their eating habits. Give them a pair of tennis shoes. I am with him.

    December 5, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. Phil Canole, Springfield Missouri

    Its surprising that dinosaurs would call progressive Washington/Jeffersonian-minded republicanism anything but true American values being expressed by a presidential candidate. Yes Republican. Our founding fathers despised democracy calling it mob rule and a path to despotism. If you dont know this, then you went to a govt. school and should take remedial classes.

    December 5, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Jim, NY, NY

    I'd rather vote for the guy you're calling a "dinosaur" than Hillary or Obama any day. He's the only candidate that doesn't seem to be in politics for himself. If you read carefully, the article spun his comments by inferring that "preventative care and wellness education" should not be a central feature. He never said that; he only said that the government shouldn't tell you what to eat. The government can only make suggestions – legislation can't -make- you do anything. If you'd rather have the government breathing down your neck to tell you to eat no more than 13 potato chips rather than using your head to make sound choices, I dare say that the "idiot alert" may have been tripped by you!

    December 5, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. JB from LV

    Thompson knows how much we DO NOT want a "Nanny State." Parents need to step up to the plate and stop depending on the federal government to raise their children for them. How about a little personal accountability. I'm with Fred.

    December 5, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. Santa

    Ba Gua Zhang: I understand if you confused the words "Preventative care" and "Preventative education", but they are not the same.

    Parents & family should be responsible for teaching children to brush their teeth, driver's education, and to exercise as preventatitve education.

    The government should not be responsible for marking people with demerits for failing to uphold preventative care in choosing which foods to eat, brushing your teeth,etc. It is not government's business to do that in a free society. Even such meeasures in a government like the PRC go unenforced as it is impossible to enforce.

    Keep government concerned with maintaining border intergrity, collecting taxes, enforcing existing motor & commerce laws- stuff that the government is actually effective at doing.

    Keep the government out of the bed room, away from the arts, and out of my dinner plate. In a free society, the government has no business being their, even with nationalised health care. See Canada and the UK for effective examples.

    December 5, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Steve Summers

    I'm wondering what clause of the constitution or its amendments can be twisted to the point where it can be interpreted as giving the federal government the power to tell you what you should eat. I know that most CNN viewers (and presumably, those who visit this site) will be people stupid enough to believe that the federal government can do ANYTHING and make it work if only the program were "fully funded", but there are just some things that should be "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." to quote from that "obsolete" old document that nobody pays attention to anymore.

    December 5, 2007 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. Anthony, Orlando, FL

    Fred is 2nd nationally and 3rd in Iowa in the latest polling. A southerner can't really expect to win NH. Besides, anyone that watched the last Bears or Patriots games knows better than to predict the outcome of a game before its over, let alone before its started! The Government can recommend what we eat, but has no place TELLING us what to eat. It's an untenable proposition anyway, so the point is moot.

    December 5, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Greg, Houston TX

    Yeah, I can hear it now. "You – yes you, with the Big Mac! Freeze! Drop the burger and step away from it, or I'll taze ya, bro. I'm from the government and I'm here to help!"

    December 5, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. David Tomaselli

    The pio

    December 5, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Mark Boyles, Spartaburg, SC

    Please find the clause in the constitution that makes individual diet the responsibility of the Federal Government. Republicans (American Fascist Party) and Democrats(American Socialist Party) all want the Federal Government to run every detail of our lives. The only difference between them is what they want to make us do.

    December 5, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Steve, NY

    Ridiculous. If the government doesn't tell you how to eat, we are just going to get fatter. The government needs to tell us what to do and how to live at all times.

    December 5, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  18. Shelley, Maryland

    It's called personal responsibility folks! If you're so stupid and weak that you need the government to monitor what you eat then you are beyond help. Fred Thompson is the only authentic candidate running!

    December 5, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. David Tomaselli, Houston, Texas

    Thompson's point is, it is not the flippin' federal government's responsibility to educate morons on common sense matters such as what is healthy and not healthy to eat. The democrats and Huckabee would like to take care of/control us from cradle to grave, womb to tomb. Thompson understands the Constitution and the fed's limited role better than any other candidate, which means less digging into our pockets.

    December 5, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. MC

    Do you folks understand the difference between nutritional guidelines/education and force of law? Thompson isn't saying people shouldn't be educated or shouldn't try to prevent illness. He's saying the government shouldn't force people into a certain lifestyle.

    December 5, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. hemiman

    Ah, I see we already have a number of liberal democrats bashing small government, personal responsibility, and free living. They long for the day of the stalinist state where they are told when to eat, how to eat, and every aspect of their life comes via government decree. How, here's a secret dems, you can experience your hearts desire now, just 90 miles south of Florida. Cuba would just love to have you. I'll even ship your stuff. Everything there is taken care of for you.

    December 5, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Doug, New Jersey

    It is the libs who support fat people who sue McDonalds for making them fat. The damage Edwards has done in his lifetime with bogus lawsuits is probably worse than every person who has ever ran for president combined. Then again people getting money that they don't deserve is what makes the average liberal democrat most happy.

    Libs want a government to tell them what to do and take care of them from cradle to grave. If you have a little more dignity than that then you shouldn't give any of them your support.

    December 5, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Miquelon, St Pierre & Miquelon

    I watched Fred Thompson on Charlie Rose last night.

    His performance was truly painful to watch, between his attempts at sounding conservative with buzzwords and keywords (voucher, get government out of X), and his constant attempts at watering down everything he said in a bid to appeal to centrists, it sounded like a lot of cold porridge.

    December 5, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. indopus, colorado springs, co

    this is good. In no way should the government tell an individual what they can or cannot eat. People are different. Some people can eat the fattiest foods and matobolize them fine without having health problems and being obese. Just because certain people eat and become over weight should not be a burden of other people. It's your own responsibility to maintain your health. Not the government. I don't want to only be able to eat coose coose and dried tofu. I want the butter, greese, and sugar. No artificial flavors made with plastic!! I have the choice.

    December 5, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Scott, Chicago IL

    The government has been pushing the false idea that fat in the diet causes heart attacks for decades. So now we eat high carb diets and diabetes, heart disease and obesity are soaring. It was all a political, not a scientific decision in the first place. How many have lost their lives due to government incompetance. So not only is it none of the government's business, the government is incapable of doing unbiased science anyway. Meat isn't the problem, it's the solution. Ignore the corn farmers lobby and their high fructose corn syrup.

    December 5, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8