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. Dan, Bangor, ME

    what he is saying you idiots is the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should not tell you how or what or when or how much to eat.
    To you morons out there who don't understand this it means the the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should not waste time, money or anything else on attempting to tell you what to eat. It is not their job and never should be. This country needs to grow up and take some personal responsibility.

    December 5, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. CJR, Manchester, Connecticut

    He's got a good idea. Too many people are living too long, and it's not just America that's overpopulated.

    Allow those who don't care for health to kill themselves with bad diet, and cut the strain on already useless programs that are spending our tax dollars. It's not difficult to find the information and knowledge you need about being healthy. Like he said, the government cannot instill willpower, only individuals can.

    Obviously, the attempts of the government to influence our health so far have failed miserably.

    December 5, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Ron Burton, Lehigh Acres Florida

    A tiny advance for the greater good. I want the Gov. out of my labor, out of my health care, out of my bedroom, out of my kitchen, out of my church, out of my...well just about everything else except what its supposed to do and while they're at about repealing the 16th amendment and going to a national sales tax? Huh?

    December 5, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Lee Hortman, Raleigh, NC

    Liberals hate anyone that talks of smaller gov't. The liberal comments above prove that. All they can do is personal attacks, skillfully avoiding the real message. Less gov't, more freedoms.

    December 5, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Björn from Helsingborg, Sweden

    And he's running at second place in South Carolina. What does any of this have to do with his comments here anyway?

    December 5, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Eric, Joplin MO

    Where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government should educate and guide the private daily lives of citizens? The thing about liberal-minded people and nanny-staters I don't understand and get irritated with is that they have no clue what the framework our government is based on really says. You may think Fred Thompson looks old, but what he says and what he holds to as his set of principles are what we should be looking at for judging whether or not he would be a good president. If you think the government should be involved in every part of your life and tell you what to eat, whether you can smoke, and take more money from you to run social entitlements that our Constitution never gave them the authority to do, then Fred probably is not the candidate for you. At least judge him on the issues and not on whether he looks "tired." Sheesh, 90% of the people in this country look tired and rundown. I recommend reading the Constitution and then "the Federalist Papers" to get a better sense of where Fred is drawing his platform.

    December 5, 2007 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Lee Pereira, Los Angeles, CA

    Kudos to Thompson! I too, am fed up with Government telling us what to eat, what not to say, what not to do, how to raise our kids. It has gotten to the point that so many people are so interested in what other people are doing (and if they can change anything they don't like), that even to hug a friend can get you thrown out of a job or school! Government is not a "nanny" and should quit trying to be one.

    December 5, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. David King, Huntsville Alabama

    Senator Thompson is absolutely is up to us as individuals, to take some personal responsibility(a concept that seems to have gotten lost in this country) for what we do with our lives and our is not the place of Govt, to tell us how to live as free people, it IS the govts' responsibility to provide a safe infrastructure, within which to conduct our daily lives.......when you expect the govt. to do everything for you....that is called socialism.

    December 5, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Jim, Fishers, IN

    Way to go Fred! You liberals are idiots. Apparently you have been too busy reading Karl Marx to pick up a copy of The Constitution or The Federalist Papers. Socialism = Dependency = Loss of Rights. It worked so well in East Germany and North Korea. The government is doing such a good job with schools, Social Security, and the BMV, why not let them run everything else.

    December 5, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Dick Jordan, Houston, Texas

    To: Ba Gua Zhang, who said, "Preventive education is NOT telling you what to eat or do. Should we not teach kids how to brush their teeth, not teach them gym class, not teach drivers' ed, etc.? He's confusing education with coercion. Typical Republican propaganda about the role of government."

    Yes, WE should teach the kids those things. However, the Government should not... it is not their responsibility, period. It is the Parent's responsibility to teach their kids how to take care of themselves. The Government needs to stay out of this.

    December 5, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Mark, Omaha, NE

    Fred won't get my vote, but he's right. Read your Constitution folks. Where in the world does it task the federal government with educating the people on ANYTHING? How many of you folks even know how many amendments there are in our Constitution? Bottom line: The federal government does nothing well...why do you trust it to educate well? It doesn't matter who the President is, the federal government should stay out...otherwise, rename our nation the United STATE of America as the individual states are merely just administrative units now.

    December 5, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Donaldo, Las Vegas, NV

    People who want to healthify America feel it is their duty to go around and fix all the "ignorant slobs" in the world, because they have it all figured out. How dare anyone stick their noses into my home and tell me what I can and cannot do about food. Here's something we never here from the democrats, "It's none of your business!!!!"

    December 5, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Skip Masters, Washington, DC

    Thank you, Peter, for an unbiased report.

    December 5, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. Mike, Cincinnati, OH

    This highlights the fundamental difference between Conservatism and Liberalism: use of the Federal Government to achieve certain social goals. For example, Edwards' healthcare plan would REQUIRE you to receive preventative care in order to contain long-term costs associated with a poor lifestyle (i.e. smoking, obesity, etc.) REQUIRE!! What if you choose not to? What if the doctor tells you to quit smoking and over-eating and you don't? Can't the justification used to require you to seek preventative care (cost control) be used to force people to live a healthier life? While a noble goal, doesn't that violate the very principles upon which this nation was founded (i.e. freedom and liberty)? Is it really the kind of power we want to give the Federal Government? The Federal Government is not the grantor of rights, but the guarantor of them.

    December 5, 2007 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Joyce, Tallahassee Florida

    The fact that many liberals do not agree with Fred's sentiment is frightening. I don't want the government in my kitchen or bedroom. Wake up!

    December 5, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Stephen Borte Atlanta, GA

    Right on Fred. We in corporate America, the true Americans, support the Republican plan for health care! Let the slobs get fat and die. We can then replace them with overseas companies or guest workers (wink, wink). Meanwhile all those pension benefits and Social Security benefits that we owe will go away since they are gone! Gotta love the Republican party, they know how to save the top 1% of the country from poverty.

    December 5, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Bunny, Fort Ann NY

    Thank you Fred, I couldn't agree more. People who are fat and lazy will always be fat and lazy it's their right to make bad choices. In this country most obese people don't work and are welfare anyway. Poor down trodden fat people.

    December 5, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. Ana, New York, NY

    "Preventive education is NOT telling you what to eat or do. Should we not teach kids how to brush their teeth, not teach them gym class, not teach drivers' ed, etc.?"

    nobody is telling you what to teach your kids. leave the rest of use alone.

    December 5, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Brad, Atlanta, GA

    To Ba Gua Zhang,

    If you paid any attention at all to the article, you would have noticed he said the family should teach healthy living. The point isn't that we should be fat slobs, the point is the gov't shouldn't use our tax dollars to encourage healty living. Healthy living is a personal choice and nothing the gov't says or does will make people make the right choice. Remember, the gov't does nothing to earn money, they take it from you and me. If we allow them to fund every program they deem to be "necessary", we will all be broke!

    December 5, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Karen, Felton, Delaware USA

    I generally ignore Fred Thompson ("Fred Thompson-who?"), but I agree wholeheartedly with this-it's truly getting ridiculous what our government wants to tell us to do. I can tell Washington a thing or two to do, though...

    December 5, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. MaCaNs, MD

    Thanks Fred, the gov't needs to get the heck out of our lives. ITS THE PARENTS RESPONSIBILITY

    December 5, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    He is right to make that point.

    We are continuously headed toward a "Nanny State" and it's THAT far fetched to think that government might one day pass some "FAT TAX" in the name of health costs.

    Keep up the good work Fred!

    December 5, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Andy, Richmond VA

    Since the government can't educate people about living healthily, as Thompson suggests, I hope he'll also suggest that the government shouldn't give medicare or social security to fat old people. Typical Republican pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator.

    December 5, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. TacomaJoe, WA

    Daniel, NY:

    New Hampshire has proven itself irrelevant in deciding who will win the Republican nomination. In 2000 McCain carried NH. In 1996, Buchanan carried NH. And this year, NH's already small contingent of delegates will be reduced by half.

    Thompson is still in the running to win South Carolina. South Carolina has proven to be a key to obtaining the Republican nomination.

    And as for all these people who are calling Fred an idiot and saying he doesn't want to teach gym class or driver's ed. I wish you were intelligent enough, or honest enough, to recognize the distinction between the authority of the federal government and the authority of state governments. Try reading the Constitution. You might learn something.

    December 5, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Spartan

    I truly don't understand some of these comments. Why do some people almost insist on being told what to do? Are you an adult? Can you not live for yourself and leave others' to their own vices and wiles?
    If you want socialized/universal medicine and and all the governmental mandates of health of fitness that will come along with it, why not just move to Canada? Seriously. The other socialists will gladly welcome you. They need help with that immense tax burden!

    December 5, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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