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. Ed Norris, Pittsboro, NC

    "Johnny-come-latelys now that don’t want to talk about their record." Wow, that pretty much sums up Huckabee. Flip-flopped from being the Governor who turned his state into a magnet for illegals and now miraculously has the "strongest" platform against them. You just keep hoping no one looks into your record don't you Mike?

    RINO's are easy to spot in the wild and Thompson is a good shot from what I hear. Better duck Huck!

    January 16, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Fred who? As Bruce Willis said in Pulp Fiction, Fred is dead.

    January 16, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    Seems like Fred woke up for a few minutes.

    January 16, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. Alex, Winter Springs Florida

    As much as I like Fred's ideas, his candidacy has been largely unsuccessful. My guess is that he went after Huckabee more sterntly rather than McCain because he can see the writing on the wall that he's going to have to pull out of the race after South Carolina and probably endorse McCain.

    January 16, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. michael, Gladstone, MO

    Fred conveniently left out two things: National Right to Life saw him as more electable when they endorsed him well before the Iowa caucuses (Who's sitting at 4-10% in actual votes, Fred?), and they were willing to overlook the amount of money he took as a lobbyist to be pro-choice. Follow the money as the old Watergate saying goes, and you'll see Fred's true "culturally conservative" colors. Try to stay relevant, Fred, and hope for a miracle.

    January 16, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Linda, Salt Lake City, Utah

    I'm surprised that Fred woke up long enough to say anything!

    January 16, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. Tom Masters

    Too little too late Fred, it was a dumb gamble to get in this late.

    And now you're tearing down the others, how is that gonna help your party?

    I don't think any of the candidates can be taken seriously at this point.

    The job is President of The USA, not The President of the Junior Class in high school.

    All of these candidates need to back out and let qualified candidates run.

    January 16, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  8. Tatum

    will SoCarolina see the Huck and Chuck tandem? A pastor and bodyguard tagteam with a desire to kick out teeth….not a campaign highlight!

    America….we can do much better than that!

    January 16, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Duncan, Richmond, VA

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

    As much as I dislike Thompson and what he stands for.. I agree with that statement. Romney went to Michigan and said "I'll do whatever it takes to give you whatever you want, spend lots of money to help the US auto industry and give you all jobs.. really, honest!! "

    January 16, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. James

    Fred Thompson is just like McCain, Romney and Huckabee. All are Neocons. Not one true conservative there. They are liberals turned conservative. The only true conservative is Ron Paul but you won't hear about him because he can't be bought and won't take the taxpayer funded matching funds that McCain took. Why? Because he lives by his ethics and won't spend YOUR taxpayer dollars to help him win the race. Who don't they want you to hear about? Here's a quote you can use for almost all the candidates except for Dr. Paul.

    "Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises; it costs nothing."

    January 16, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  11. David, Oregon City

    It is very sad to see desperate Fred Thompson attempting to hide his weak accomplishments and old age by expressing himself forcefully against Huckabee!

    January 16, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. Sandy, St. Paul, MN

    Thompson's attacking his rivals? Who are his rivals? I don't know anyone who's getting as low numbers as he is. Maybe his rivals are the guys who live under bridges?

    January 16, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. Matt Eastwood

    I think Fred nailed it on the head, especially with Romney.

    January 16, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |

    I think Fred's a great guy, and a great candidate! 🙂

    I'd LOVE to see him and Mitt Romney together on a ticket against the far left radical-extremist Foreing FInaced Democrat Partyquais Francais..eh? ABSOLUTELY!!! GO FRED!!!! GO MITT!!!

    January 16, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. David, Oregon City

    Also, Today, the following businessmen from Arkansas released a statement in support of former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee: Scott T. Ford, President and CEO, Alltel Corporation; Warren A. Stephens, President and CEO, Stephens Inc.; Madison Murphy, Former Chairman, Murphy Oil Corporation; John Tyson, Chairman of the Board, Tyson Foods, Inc; and French Hill, Chairman and CEO, Delta Trust and Banking Corporation:

    "We are a traditionally bi-partisan group of executives of several of the largest corporations headquartered in the State of Arkansas, each with considerable exposure to the Administration of Governor Mike Huckabee. Of late, Governor Huckabee has attracted what we believe to be unwarranted criticism regarding his business record."

    "Our experience with Governor Huckabee indicates that he not only values greatly the freedoms of religion and liberty, but of the free market as well. He is an atypical leader who garnered the respect of not only the professional business community but of the working men and women across our State as well."

    "When he became our Governor, he inherited our long sub-standard education system, infrastructure, and regulatory climate. Under his leadership, we were able to grow our businesses, increase our employment, reduce our litigation exposure and enjoy, along with all of our fellow Arkansans, a healthier economy, improved schools, updated highways, and new healthcare delivery facilities."

    "In our support of Governor Huckabee's truly conservative, small government business outlook and his pragmatic, yet compassionate style of governing, we invite you to look past the shallow rhetoric of yet another campaign season to see what we have experienced first hand – that with the right political leadership in place, businesses and citizens can jointly prosper and as they do, they contribute so much more to the economic and societal fabric of a community than simply tax revenues."

    January 16, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  16. WC

    In my opinion, Fred Thompson is the only choice for true conservatives and the only candidate that has been a consistent conservative.

    The "lazy" or "asleep" theme that Linda from Salt Lake is describing was made up by the liberal media when they couldn't find ways to attack Fred's solid conservative record. Along with the other candidates, Fred has been working 18 -20 hour days for the last several months. Before Fred joined the race, he was working three jobs and raising two children under the age of 4. Does that sound "lazy" or "asleep" ? To suggest that any of the presidential candidate is lazy demonstrates ignorance of the extreme dedication and hardwork that each of these candidates has put forth.

    If you want to attack Fred on the issues, I respect that, but to say they he is lazy or asleep is childish and frankly not truthful.

    January 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. Mary Newlon

    Yes, and how many and how much have they been promised should he win.....lots of illegals in Arkansas and lots of business hiring them....

    January 16, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. Mary, Michigan

    Anyone know what Fred is polling in SC?

    January 16, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. Jack

    Enough already with the personal insults.

    Fred Thompson may or may not be the ideal candidate for true conservatives; it's hard to say since it has been very difficult to obtain much on his positions. He is not receiving as much TV time as his opponents. Of course, I live in Ohio so I won't hear much about the candidates for another month or so; our primary isn't until the first week of March.

    This is only part of the problem with our current primary and caucus system. Mitt Romney has been the leader in the delegate count all along; even though he didn't win a significant contest until Michigan. By the time we get through Super Tuesday and the rest of February, the number of candidates will be significantly reduced. It would be nice to throw out this outdated system and change to an all or nothing system as we do for most other races. This way, EVERYONE would have a chance to vote for the candidate of their choice; not just the residents of a few states with primaries and caucuses in January.

    January 16, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  20. bdc, phila, pa

    to suggest he's got 4 hours a day sleep, eat, and defecate for the last several months is probably more ignorant than suggesting he's lazy.

    Or, if you're right.. that might be why people think he's asleep...

    January 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Bill Culver, Covington,LA

    Anyone with with any modicum of inteligence could see and work with a sense of alacrity for a Fred Thompson / Duncan Hunter Ticket.

    January 16, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  22. Patty D.

    Fred Thompson said today in the Situation Room that there is no recession. This man has no idea how bleak it is for average American families! It makes me angry how most of the Republican candidates act if there is no problem with the economy.

    January 16, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  23. AJ, IL

    If Fred doesn't place 1st or 2nd in SC, he's done. He knows it as well as the other candidates. Fred should just go home and spend time with his daughter and grand-kids, ooops...I mean wife and little kid, no I mean his daughter and grand-kids. I'm not confused, he has both. Just another Bill Clinton except he divorce his wife after cheating on her.

    January 16, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. robert

    I think the fact that there are only four comments on this story says Thompson is in deep doodoo.

    January 16, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  25. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    David, wake up, these men are all Baptists.
    Judging Christians!
    Making a joke out of the Presidential campaign.
    I've lost respect for these so called "Christians", they haven't behaved as true Christians at all.
    I'm not one, so don't blast back at me.
    I just find it ironic how hypocritical they all are and they think they're so worthy!

    January 16, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
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