December 16th, 2007
11:27 AM ET
15 years ago

Thompson takes swipes at GOP rivals

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson downplayed Mike Huckabee's recent rise in the Iowa polls, and said Sunday it should not be credited to his conservative appeal, but rather "some religious leaders and church people."

"I mean, they're a cohesive group and well-organized," the former Tennessee senator said in an interview on CBS' 'Face the Nation.' "And he has worked them very, very hard. And, you know, when you're talking about a relatively few votes, a group such as that can do you a lot of good politically."

Thompson added that "liberal is the only word that comes to mind" when describing rival Huckabee's record as Arkansas governor. Thompson also took aim at Mitt Romney, calling him an inconsistent conservative.

"I'm not sure how you would ever determine how Mitt would govern in the future if you looked at his past, in comparison to what he's saying today," Thompson said of the former Massachusetts governor.

The Thompson campaign continues to unleash a barrage of negative mailers and campaign statements in the Hawkeye State aimed at the two former governors.

Thompson, who has slipped to third behind Huckabee and Romney in most recent Iowa polls, said that there's "no question" he needs to do well in the caucuses, which will take place in roughly three weeks.

He also repeated his campaign trail calls for a tougher immigration policy and stronger border security. The issue is a central one among Republicans in most early-voting states.

"I think that if [immigrants] know they can't go back and forth across the border, if they know that they're not going to be working here indefinitely, if they know they're not going to be protected from the law essentially in these cities, that they'll go back on their own accord," Thompson said. "Obviously, not all of them, and not overnight. But it will move in the right direction. That's the only thing that we can do."

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Fred Thompson
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Mike O

    A correction of significance; I am quite sure Thompson did NOT say 'immigrants' and your replacement of what he said is misleading at the very least. Of course, 'immigrants' can come and go across the border (my wife would be in trouble if they couldn't). However, 'illegal immigrants' cannot. That distinction- one based on law– is critical to understanding his meaning.

    December 16, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Anthony, High Falls, NY

    Fred didn't even make the ballot in Deleware. I hope he stays in till the end...

    December 16, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    That is right Bill, we took a risk on you when we voted for the youngest president in history and you turned out to be a fine president, young or not, people want a president they can identify themselves with. We took a chance on you, let us take a chance on someone else, young, old, catholic, mormon, christians, non christians, gays(not), mobsters(not)

    December 16, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. curtis in WI

    Fred Thompson seems to be running a campaign for high school president.

    December 16, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. anon

    Ron Paul lives in his own world. His foreign policy statements are utterly naive. Yeah, let's just close all our foreign bases. Please. His foreign policies would be many times more disastrous than anything that has happened with Iraq.

    December 16, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. anony

    How can anyone consider Fred Thompson for president? He can't act his way out of a paper bag.

    December 16, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. mark wilkes barre pa

    Fred tompson is running a straight shot campain,No frills, facts. No hype to fire up the loonies just common sense aproaches and hard answers to tough problems. If your looking for a president to fall in love with mabey freds not your guy. If your looking for a president who will study the problem and find a solution that expells experience and confidence then fred is your guy

    December 16, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. Matt Baker, Chanute Ks

    YAWN~ sorry did I miss something?

    back to bed fred!

    December 16, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Bill, Terrace, BC

    The GOP focus on the immigration issue is a huge mistake. There are some voters who are quite passionate about that issue...but they are almost certain to vote GOP anyway.

    On the flip side, it will probably cost them all but a handful of diehard Miami Cubans of the Latino vote. Also many potential Dem Latinos who might not have turned out will. This may swing not only the presidency but big majorities in both houses to the Dems.

    December 16, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  10. Lisla Lee, Dallas, TX

    Why do we even give Thompson the time of day? The only politician to make statements dumber than Fred Thompson is George W. Bush. Need I say more?

    December 16, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Bryan, Firestone, CO

    Romney is still by far the most all-around qualified candidate for either party. This guy may not have the eloquence of Huckabee, or the military experience of McCain, but look at the guy...his successful track record says it all. So does this recent article:

    December 17, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  12. Dave, Orlando, FL

    anon, Congrats on being a total tool. You have no clue about foreign policy, and I pray that no one listens to your foolish opinion.

    December 17, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  13. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    Thompson? Why are we wasting time and energy on this guy? If he were serious, he would have thrown his hat into the ring a long time ago. He's too late, he's not strong enough for the job and no-body takes this guy seriously.

    Fred, please go back to acting. Oh, still are.

    December 17, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Mr Thompson may have a bit of a point. Many of the policies that the two governors have had may appear to be socially liberal (that means helping people). For conservatives, that might cause some of them to reflect; should we use the power of government to help people who have little or no chance to help themselves? Maybe that is a good thing that government helps from time to time.

    December 17, 2007 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Mark, San Antonio, TX

    As a counselor I encounter people everyday who attempt to make themselves look better by pointing out the errors of others. The counsel I give them is, "The faults we most easily recognize in others are our own." How about any candidate that lives the concept of treating others the way they would like to be treated.

    December 17, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Darko - New Orleans, LA

    To Lisla Lee on Fred "Making dumb statements"

    Such As?

    I've heard nothing but straight talk from this guy. If you watch CNN all day long, you might be confusing it as talking points and rhetoric.

    And for the guy that said immigration shouldn't be central to his platform is wrong. Immigration is an issue in the primary. Several GOP candidates have and were very, very soft on it in the past.

    December 17, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. Marc, Lafayette CA

    To Lisla Lee on Fred "Making dumb statements"

    Such As?

    I've heard nothing but straight talk from this guy. If you watch CNN all day long, you might be confusing it as talking points and rhetoric.

    And for the guy that said immigration shouldn't be central to his platform is wrong. Immigration is an issue in the primary. Several GOP candidates have and were very, very soft on it in the past.

    Posted By Darko – New Orleans, LA : December 17, 2007 10:50 am

    LOL – are you kidding me? Here are a bunch of DUMB quotes from your best friend Fred:

    "I'm afraid that the Soviet Union and China are not ever going to do anything that's going to hurt them that badly but we need to ratchet those up if at all possible." –on how he would deal with Russia.

    “Gosh, no one has told me that there’s any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that’s one of the things I need to learn while I’m down here” –after being asked his position on oil drilling in the Florida Everglades

    "We also have to ask if we focusing on the most important priorities."

    "For example, lead paint in old houses can be a greater threat to children's health than lead that may be under some industrial site where there are no children."


    "I'm glad that we've got people like George Bush and Colin Powell and Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and people like that on the job..."

    December 17, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. Chris - Dallas

    Typical liberal rants. Only an idiot with nothing to do would make an issue of nothing. It is an ad with background furniture. Get over it. Else, find something better to do. And yes, "Paul is still dead".

    December 19, 2007 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  19. deezer

    Rush, Fred and even Hannity have had a fun time placing a spotlight on some of the small “flaws” of Huckabee’s past and turn away from all of the conservative ideals that he represents.

    They are also responsible for persistently spreading mis-truths about Huckabee’s record as governor. For instance, the tax increases that took place while he was in office. There was a gas tax increase to fund roads, that was voted on by the people of Arkansas. Also, there was a court-ordered tax increase to fund schools in the state.

    Hannity loves to talk about Regan, but ignores the fact that he raised taxes by $1 BILLION ($10 Billion in today’s dollars) his first year as governor of California. Huckabee’s combination of tax cuts and primarily-mandated-by-others tax increases pale in comparison to Regan’s spending. And Regan was considered to be “the ultimate conservative of this era”.

    Huckabee has signed the no-tax pledge. He supports the FairTax, a heavily researched, excellent plan that would stimulate the economy (as well as tax all of the current tax evaders). What more do these people want? I guess they want to overlook the true facts (even though they claim to always proclaim the truth) in favor of Huckabee bashing. Disgusting!

    January 17, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |