January 16th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Thompson takes aim at rivals

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.thom.ap.jpg caption= "Thompson is getting tough on his rivals."]ABBEVILLE, South Carolina (CNN) -– Fred Thompson continued his attacks on all three of his main Republican rivals in South Carolina Wednesday.

The former Tennessee senator, running behind John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in recent surveys in the state, has staked his candidacy on a strong showing in the GOP primary there this Saturday.

Asked by a voter Wednesday how his record on "conservative Christian values" stacked up against those of Huckabee and John McCain, he immediately criticized the former Arkansas governor.

"Just to cut through the baloney, it was me and not him who received the National Right to Life endorsement," he said. "Who do you think knows my record better? They've been following me since 1994."

Thompson repeated the criticisms he made against Huckabee at last weekend's GOP debate in Myrtle Beach, especially on the issue of illegal immigration.

"He said, well he felt compassionate about the children. Well, what about the other children who are being induced to come across the border in the future, from Mexico or wherever?" asked Thompson.

Thompson also criticized his close friend John McCain, calling the Arizona senator "wrong on immigration" and mistaken in his early opposition to President Bush's tax cuts, but quickly pivoted back to Huckabee.

"At least McCain's record been out there for about 20 years. We got some Johnny-come-latelys now that don’t want to talk about their record. And they're hoping there's not enough time for anybody to examine it," he said.

Thompson also gave a backhanded compliment to Michigan primary winner Mitt Romney.

"Gov. Romney was very effective in Michigan doing what he does best, and that is tailoring his message to a different audience," Thompson said.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Jimmy, Des Moines

    Partty, what problem is there with the economy? I'm part of the normal middle-class and I see no problem with the currently economy except for the media saying there is a problem. Are the majority of companies losing money? Is unemployment at a significant rate? No, to both of those questions. Is the stock market down, yes, but that happens one or two years every ten year cycle. And don't say there is a credit crunch. Those who are deserving of credit can receive it very easily. I still see stores packed with people shopping and buying large dollar items. If you actually wake up and look around you and try to decide for yourself, you'll see there is no problem with our current economy.

    January 17, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. Terry, El Paso, TX

    The only thing that recommends Thompson for the Presidency is that he doesn't particularly seem to want it. I am always suspicious of the emotional stability of anyone who would actually want to be President.

    In terms of brains, experience, vision, and originality I think we can find lots of men and women as capable as Thompson in any shopping mall in America on a snowy morning.

    January 17, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  3. Chaunda,IN

    I am surprised on the lack of commentary on this article on Thompson compared to the overabundance of people who even looked at an article on Rove. Rove is so done the only reason he was covered was to stir up controversy. Boring.

    January 17, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Walt, Belton, TX

    Fred's no longer Presidential, he's.............more.........like a Presidential candidate's father.

    January 17, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Fred...we know the "Right To Life" folks endorsed you....

    But you've got to be a little more "evangelical"....and man...you need to look at your off duty behavior–you ain't no savior.

    January 17, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Greg Cherry

    I'm still waiting for my comments from last night to get reposted about Fred, Mr. Conservative, and his lobbying history. Prove me wrong, but I would think CNN is shaping this blog, withholding hard hitting facts that don't paint Fred as who he says he is. For instance, his lobby work for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Heatlh Association in 1991 where he was paid to lobby for easing Abortion restrictions. How about his stance on supporting abortions regardless under any circumstance for the first three months.

    I strongly encourage everyone to check the facts and not the rhetoric on Fred. He made his millions lobbying on behalf of Big Business and he is Mr. Establishment and not Mr. Conservative – business as usual. The only thing Fred is "conserving" is his wallet, at your expense.

    January 17, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. Tony

    Hammering on Fred is like hammering Dub. All that you can state is the obvious. The only thing consistent with the consistent conservative is that he is consistently missing.

    January 17, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Chris, Jacksonville

    Ahh yes, one of our best and brightest.....

    This guy is just pathetic.

    If these candidates are the best we can do, then our nation is in serious trouble.

    January 17, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Aaron K

    Sarah, Kansas City, MO said "Fred who? As Bruce Willis said in Pulp Fiction, Fred is dead."

    Um, sorry... the character was ZED... with a Z...

    "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."

    January 17, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. F Thigpen

    Fred give us a break. You will not even support a marriage amendment that states man and a woman define a marriage. So quit calling yourself a conservative and go back to hollywood or back to washington and sleep away. What have you done since being in Washington anyway???

    January 17, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Daniel

    It's Rhino* And it seems like spelling's not your only weakness Mr. Ed. Thompson's the kind of Republican the House of Congress is full of: useless ones just there for a paycheck. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the same ol' same ol' just isn't working out for us. Huckabee and Mccain are the only reasonable candidates.

    January 17, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Jonathan, UT

    In my gut I really want Thompson to do well. I think he is a great guy, and he has a clean record. But I don't think he'll take SC, and the problem is that the votes that he gets will largely be taken away from Huckabee. Now, I'm as scared of Huckabee as any, but we need him to do well here. If McCain wins in SC, he'll also take Florida, and it will be over soon after that. I almost hope Thompson doesn't come out so strong so he doesn't get in Huckabee's way on this one. Someone has to stop McCain.

    January 17, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. william walsh columbus ohio

    i would suggest another scotch, with a chaser, you have to say something and do something to be right or wrong dont ya? never herd of bub!!!! and tennesee, lol, that state has as many latin americans as new york, just got back !!! i had to learn spanish just to work there,

    January 17, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. AA

    Fred Thompson needs to get out of the presidential race. He's not going to win anyways. And by the way, an endorsement doesn't mean anything. Look at your records and stop pretending to be good, cause Fred, you're not.

    January 18, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. John

    I hope Fred can have a strong showing in SC. He's seems to be the only candidate that doesn't simply change his tune for whatever state he's in. He's a straight shooter and I like that. He's not afraid to say that some of America's problems can't be fixed overnight and I like that too. I doubt any candidate can fix this messed up country.

    January 18, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. robert chapman

    I keep reading articles like this one about Fred Thompson in which he touts his conservatism and his endorsements.

    I never see articles describing his positions on anything.

    Is there anything other than bluster and brag to this man?

    January 19, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. robert chapman

    It's Rhino* And it seems like spelling's not your only weakness–
    uh Daniel, it is Republican in Name Only R-I-N-O. Not the animal Daniel, this is not a story about the zoo.

    January 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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