January 16th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
14 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. John

    Good Old Fred is dead in the water its clear he will have to withdraw very soon his method acting style of speach inspires no one, any of the front three Democratic candidates would eat him for beakfast and spit the bones out before lunch

    January 16, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  2. dilmont

    Well, someone finally woke up the election's laziest campaigner. Don't worry Fred, you'll get naptime again very soon.

    January 16, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Ha ha!

    Who's Fred Thompson?

    January 16, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  4. Nate

    If you ask Fred why he is qualified he will respond by attacking another candidate. Perhaps because he hasn't really done much of anything. He's never run an executive branch of government. I don't know that he has even ever been the originator of a piece of legislation. If you ask a Fred supporter why he is qualified he will snap straight, glare into the distance, his eyes will glaze over, then the Rush tape hits play in his head and he utters in a robotic voice "Fred is the only true conservative." How about some substance?

    January 16, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  5. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Fred's a good man, but waiting to get into the race, and then coming with only a whisper, was a huge mistake. Fred, you come across as a great behind-the-scenes guy, and that won't get you squat in a popularity contest.

    January 16, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  6. John, Lincoln NE

    Fred Thompson is the only true conservative in this race and the only GOP candidate who can unite the party. That is precisely why the Democrats are so afraid of him. I only hope that the good people of South Carolina can realize the opportunity they have to provide him with the springboard he will need to capture the nomination.

    This great nation of ours cannot afford to have another moderate or liberal leader.

    January 16, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. Sean, Santa Barbara, CA

    Nixon summed up Thompson pretty well he is "dumb as hell"-

    Nice line WC-

    "The "lazy" or "asleep" theme that Linda from Salt Lake is describing was made up by the liberal media" did you get this point from the Neo-con media?

    Can't be, cause even the neo-con media "Fox noise" has said the same thing- oh and by the way they actually got it from Fred himself who said something to the effect of " I don't like campaigning to much I get tired, I'd rather sit at home " If you are running for the president of a country and you say something to that affect the yes you are lazy

    January 16, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. Aubrey, Texas

    I too would like to see a Fred Thompson/ Mitt Romney ticket. Two great men with great experience and vision. Need to excite the voters interest now until Nov. and stop all the childish bickering over personal things. Issues are the thing.Get down to the real needs of America. We certainly don't need closet Muslim, hiding in a black supremest church. Nor a self seeking,flip flopping clone of Bill Clinton to take this country futher down the road to ruin. In defense of Ron Paul, tell the media to go back under the porch and stop their yellow dog lying, and made up storeies Ron said he didn't say what they roported, and didn't know who did. And His staff says he never said it and I believe them. Now let me say it plain and clear, It Is true no matter who said it. That is what happened. I lived in California at that time, and know it to be true. Not a slap at any race, but just happens to be the case. So get over it, it happens in America often in many places. And California takes the prize for the most hits on this one.

    January 16, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  9. Sean, Santa Barbara, CA

    WC- "you want to attack Fred on the issues, I respect that"

    Who are you that you think people want your respect ?

    January 16, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  10. Kenneth Cheeseman

    This guy should go home and watch it all on TV.

    January 16, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  11. Bullofmizzou, MO

    For David In Oregon City....How many of these Corporations have been hiring Illegal Aliens, and protected under Huckabee?...How many of these Buisnesses have been raided for sub-standard Health Issues due to poor worker habits?...And lackidaisical hygene policies??..Weren't one or more of these buisnesses raided by INS for Illegal Alien employment??.....Their Indorsements are not worth "Squat"....does the term "Good Old Boys" come to mind??....

    America does not need nor want a President who goes around "Preaching", based on his own religious beliefs, and fully intends to do all he can to force those beliefs on the American public, to Include an effort to "Change the Constitution" to his and his followers agendas. This would include a "Bible Test" for all legislation that would come across his desk, and most likely, his foreign policies as well...He seems to makes no bones about this in his campaign.

    America is a Melting Pot Nation, and the lack of respect for the Constitution, as it stands is absolutely outragious and dispicable ! We dont need "Holy Joe Huckabee" as our next President.

    Fund Illegals for Benefits and Education?? Give "Anchor Babies" citizenship??.....Oh Please.....Gimme A Break! This guy is another Liberal in sheep's clothing....

    January 16, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. Greg Cherry

    You know as long as Fred continues to paint a picture that he's Mr. Conservative, the more I see through him. Nope, I think your record says something entirely opposite.

    So Fred what about the millions of dollars you received as a Washington Lobbyist. Your involvement with the Savings and Loan industry deregulation whose legislation eventually led to the Savings and Loan crisis in the mid 80's.

    How about your role in helping the London-based reinsurance company, Equitas Ltd., lobby Washington to prevent passage of legislation that would have required them to payout asbestos claims.

    How does your Mr. Conservative mantra jive with your lobbying role in 1991 and 1992 on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Associates to ease restrictions on Abortion Counseling enacted by George Bush.

    Why, in 1994 during your Senate campaign did you check the box stating that you believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances during the first three months of pregnancy.

    What about your lobbying work with the Teamster Pension fund, the Canadian firms, on and on...

    Yes, I would say you are Mr. Conservative in ACTING only.

    I see you as "business as usual" inside Washington.

    January 16, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  13. John S. Maine

    Fred Thompson is a good man with a great record but is very lacking in the Charisma department.

    My vote is for Mitt Romney the total package and then some!

    January 16, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. Bullofmizzou, MO

    Fred Thompson Is the Only True Conservative Candidate in the race for President. PERIOD.

    Just because he doesn't Rant and Rave, Insult his oponants, and raise his voice in telling the American Public where he stands, and what his plans are for the betterment of America, does not mean he is asleep in his Great Campaign to be our next President.

    Fred is what America needs in these dangerous times. We need a Strong Conservative Man at the helm of great ship, and a dedicated Commander In Chief of our Armed Forces. He is Calm, Steady, Purposefull, and totally Honest.
    He has no Negative Baggage, No Scandels in his Closet, and he has a clear Conservative Record.

    Fred's Plans on the Issues are based on Honesty, and Facts, not rhetoric, or false promises to pander to the ignorant, and naieve who are looking for the unattainable Brass Rings offered by the Democrats with false promises and outragious spending only to increase the size and power of the Government.

    Fred uses good , common horse sense, experience in government, and knowledge, when addressing the Issues, and how he can and will deal with them , once elected........Hang In There Fred !

    January 16, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. Romney = Economy

    Romney = Economy

    McCain = War Pain

    I need a job not a war.

    Thompson is running because his wife told him to.

    January 16, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  16. Bryan, Illinois

    WC – It's difficult to attack Thompson's record because there is so little record there. He is like GOP version of Edwards. However, he campaigning has been fairly anemic compared to Edwards, Huckabee, and most of the other candidates.

    January 16, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. Bev

    I think Fred is truly sound in his politics. I agree that the media is trying to hinder his campaign w/ this "lazy" label. Anybody who watched him at that debate in Myrtle Beach knows he is on fire and ready for the position. I say "Go Fred!!!!" Straight talker and you know where he stands. I agree w/ TEXAN AMERICAN. Great candidate!!!! I'm impressed. /bev

    January 16, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. The Edge

    Fred was 'late to rise' and will be 'going to bed early' in this campaign...just as an old 'bought' company man should. His tired, worn out platitudes and pandering to his neo-con base will be sent to the re-run bin of history. Home spun adages and relating all that is current to the past is quaint and comforting to some, but in the real world (to quote Fred) ' that dog don't hunt anymore'. I suggest to you 'moral voters' to vote for candidates who believe in the sanctity of ALL human life, not just conception to birth then 'who cares' til they are eligible for military service. Enjoy your reminiscing with Fred and the other Repugnants while the Dems rule for the next 16 years.

    January 17, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  19. Freddie

    WC wrote "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"....blah blah blah, someting about working 18-20 hours a day and something about 3 jobs before joining the race

    WC, you don't honestly believe that garbage, do you?. Anybody who's watched Fred at any event prior to this last week of desperation in SC has seen that the guy (1) doesn't seem terribly awake (or at least energized) most of the time and (2) certainly wasn't working 18-20 hours a day. His number of campaign stops was well document and paled in comparison to the other candidates.

    Working 3 jobs prior to entering the race? Huh? Oh yes, let's not forget working as a lobbyist for pro-choice groups. I am constantly amazed that people want to tout Fred as the "one true conservative" as they quickly gloss over this one minor detail–that he has lobbied for pro-abortion groups. I can't fathom any real conservative would ever stoop that low.

    January 17, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  20. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Fred isn't running for office – he's ambling. He was even quoted in NH about not really caring if he won or not.

    Even many of his former congress critter friends have wondered if he had the fire in his belly it takes to be president after seeing his casual style of not doing too much in Congress.

    Huckabee did move his highway system from 50th to 46th worst in the country.

    January 17, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  21. Greg Cherry

    Why did you omit my comments on Fred, perhaps the truth about Fred and his lobbying activities don't jive with the Mr. Conservative image he's portraying. Put repost my comments and those of anyone else that was omitted.

    January 17, 2008 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  22. Chris in Silicon Valley

    Fred is probably hanging in just to help McCain.

    I think he will try to split the social conservative Southern vote w/ Huckabee in SC, allowing McCain to win there. After SC, he will drop out & endorse McCain. Or, he may even go 10 more days to do the same thing in FL, if his campaign doesn't run out of money.

    The GOP establishment really doesn't like what Huck represents, and there can be other objectives to a campaign besides winning. I do think Fred thought he could win when he entered, but not now.

    To see if I am right/wrong, wait & see what he does after SC/FL.

    January 17, 2008 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  23. Nando

    Is he meeting with voters at a IHOP? Man this guy was a pure as we say in the AIRBORNE a PURE LEG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  24. Lori

    WC – you're wrong. The media didn't force a false label on Fred's energy level. We got that from listening to him, watching him. He doesn't campaign, doesn't work hard to get the nomination and often is not up on the issues. I like his policies TREMENDOUSLY, but can see he doesn't have the fortitude to push them through.

    He could have been great if he had zeal as well. He doesn't, no one made that up. It is way too obvious.

    January 17, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  25. Chris in Silicon Valley


    Interesting point. Should the states be able to decide when they have their primaries?

    January 17, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
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