GLENN: Running for President of the United States, Mr. Fred Thompson. Hello, senator, how are you, sir?
SENATOR THOMPSON: Hello, Glenn, I’m doing good.
GLENN: Very good. Good to have you on the program. I know South Carolina is a big state for you and right now it’s really between you and Mike Huckabee. What would you say the biggest difference is between the two of you?
GOP Candidate Fred Thompson
SENATOR THOMPSON: Well, first of all I’m not sure it’s just between us. Frankly I assumed coming down here that he would probably be my primary competition here but I’m not sure that’s the case anymore but we’ll see. As I indicated in the debate deal the other night, you know the question was posed whether or not the Reagan coalition was dead and Governor Huckabee’s campaign manager was quoted by the moderator as saying that basically it was dead, and I took issue with that. I think that it’s a battle for really the heart and soul of the Republican party as to which direction we’re going to go, and those who think it’s dead, we need to move in a more so-called Progressive or so-called moderate or populist manner in order to emulate the Democrats more, in order to beat the Democrats, or those of us who think that the Reagan coalition was based upon sound constitutional principles that were valid in the beginning of this country and are still valid today. A strong national defense, limited government, strong stand on Second Amendment and conservative judges.
GLENN: How do you explain? Because — you know, and it’s unfair to ask a competitor this question but I’m going to ask it anyway because you know the man and you worked with the man for a long time and everybody says he’s a good man and everything else. But good God almighty, he’s wrong on just about everything. How do you explain with conservatives going out to vote, how are they supporting John McCain? What is this — where is this coming from?
SENATOR THOMPSON: I think the basis of it is national security, national defense. John was right, I think, with regard to Iraq and he stood tough during tough times and I think he turned out to be right. And I was the same place the whole time and have been. We agree on that. But John is wrong on some other important things and he was wrong when he voted against the Bush tax cuts.
GLENN: But wait a minute. I mean —
SENATOR THOMPSON: He says he’s changed his mind about that now and, you know, sobeit. But, you know, I was there during part of that time and I voted the other way. I believed the other way then, I believe the other way now. He’s certainly wrong with regard to the immigration bill that they tried to get the American people sign off on last year and they gave a resounding no and now everybody’s getting tough on the border. But on taxes and immigration, especially, you know, I think he’s wrong. But so is Huckabee as far as that’s concerned.
GLENN: But he’s also wrong with McCain/Lieberman where he wants to sign treaties for global warming. He wants to give away sovereignty on global warming. This guy is not a conservative.
SENATOR THOMPSON: No, I think he’s in the wrong direction on that, too. I think that that’s absolutely true. But, you know, he’s like everybody else. You know, he has his strong suits and his weak suits. But I think that the direction that he and Huckabee and others really, I think Giuliani and where Romney has been in the past all are going in a so-called moderate direction, which is going to lead to, you know, so-called big government conservativism or bigger government conservativism anyway.
GLENN: That doesn’t even make sense.
SENATOR THOMPSON: And they all are there or still there in one form or another. I mean, you can take any of these fellas from a conservative test standpoint and they’ve been lacking for most of their careers.
GLENN: Well, Senator Fred Thompson, honestly I thought about it this weekend. I’m thinking about to start calling myself a classic liberal because I don’t even know what conservatives stand for anymore. If they will go out and say they are conservative and they will go out and vote for John McCain, well, then I’m not a conservative. I’ve been abandoned because this isn’t what it is. You know, you vote for conservatives, you put them in office, you vote for Republicans. They’re for big spending, big government. I don’t even know what it is anymore. I’m a classic —
SENATOR THOMPSON: If you think Giuliani, who has never met a gun control bill he didn’t like, strong for gun control, strong for sanctuary cities, all that. So you could go down the list as far as he’s concerned, too. I mean, I’m telling you that’s kind of the lineup and a lot of these fellas have gotten a long way on the so-called electability quotient.
GLENN: Okay. So —
SENATOR THOMPSON: And they feel like, you know, they are better than Hillary and that’s gotten them a long way, at least for a period of time. That’s the political side of it, seems to me.
GLENN: So help me out on this then. If you say that the Reagan revolution is not dead, if you say that you are the guy who is the conservative and you and Duncan Hunter really, you guys are the conservatives out there, if that’s the case and the Reagan revolution is not dead, then how come you and Duncan Hunter are not doing as well as everybody expected, with you in particular. Everybody expected you to just clean house. What happened?
SENATOR THOMPSON: Yeah. Well, it ain’t over, Glenn. I mean, if we learned anything about this process, we should have learned that by now. Was Rudy inevitable? And where’s Rudy now? John was dead. Where’s John now? Mitt was inevitable. Where’s Mitt now? I mean, for goodness sake, let’s don’t declare these elections over before they get wound up. Now, you know, I don’t know what’s going to happen in South Carolina but I think I can win South Carolina and, you know, we’re moving in the right direction. Others are moving in the wrong direction and things are going good. I can’t explain. You know, some of the folks who have a lot to say about this apparently thought that I was coming out of Hollywood, you know, well scripted and fluent, you know, articulate, kind of like the character I played on Law and Order, I suppose, and the fact of the matter is that I’ve been the same guy the whole time and the media likes to build you up in order to take you down and they built me up beyond any, beyond all proportions. You know, before I ever got into the race, before I was even sure I was going to enter the race, they proceeded to take me down as much as they could and dismiss me and denigrate me in many respects and that’s just the nature of the game. Others have gone through this same cycle, this same process but, you know, you can ask this same question of just about everybody in the race at one time or another. It’s a moving picture and we’re moving in the right direction now and, you know, I’m not going to sit around and circle my thumb and meditate why this and why that. I’m in this bus right now traveling around South Carolina. I’m bringing the message home. This is the way it is. I am who I am. What you see is what you get. This is what I believe. This is the distinction. And then, you know, people of South Carolina and the Good Lord makes the decision as far as that’s concerned and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. I don’t worry about any of the rest of this stuff.
GLENN: All right. Senator Fred Thompson, let me ask you something that you and I disagree on pretty widely, I think, and that is I’m very concerned about our economy and you say that we’re not headed for — or you said a couple of months ago we weren’t headed for a recession. I think it’s all due to spending, just out-of-control spending both at home and in Washington, D.C.. our banking system is in a shambles. The Fed is running out of levers to open up and we’ve got several people on both sides of the aisle that are saying that they want a stimulus package. If the — well, first of all do you think we’re headed for a recession and if so, what is it that you propose to do to fix it?
SENATOR THOMPSON: Well, I don’t — see, we meet ourselves coming back there, Glenn, because, you know, you are taking a page out of the McCain talking points there. You know, he thinks it’s down all due to spending. Nobody’s harder on spending than I am but it’s not the only reason for this economic downturn. Spending needs to be controlled on a longer term basis. We’re all talking about today and tomorrow and the stock market today and the unemployment rate this very minute and all of that. When we’re locked into a spending pattern over the next several years, it’s going to be economic catastrophe for us. Has nothing to do with the current problem but it’s a longer term issue. That’s what I’m talking about.
SENATOR THOMPSON: The immediate budgetary situation is not the cause of this. It’s partly cyclical and it was brought on by the sub prime mortgage crisis. It’s poured over into the consumer credit situation and credit is tightening. It’s a part of a global situation and our interest rates which some people say the Feds mismanaged and a bigger, broader picture. You know, a lot of the economies say that we’re probably going 50% recession or 40% recession, things of that nature. You have to be mindful and watchful of it. Unemployment now is about 5%, which is a worsening situation but it’s still by historical turns, you know, almost full employment. We’re seeing a down turn in some sectors but I noticed IBM today was showing profits that were not expected. So that was good news in a major — from a major player in our industry. So nobody knows. We don’t know yet whether or not a stimulus package would be an appropriate thing to do. I think targeted tax cuts very well might be. I think tax cuts in general are the way to go. If you are going to have the stimulus package. I’ve got some ideas on that but the main thing is to not have a tax increase and to signal to the American people that they are going to have higher taxes when these tax cuts expire the end of 2010 and then lock ourselves into a commitment for a longer term spending reduction, but that involves our entitlement situation, Glenn. And nobody wants to talk about that. We have to do some things the left people do more for their own personal retirement during their working years instead of depending on the Government to take care of all of it. It’s not working the other way. It’s going to go bankrupt the other day and everybody knows it and nobody wants to talk about it.
GLENN: Well, we are on this program, sir, and real conservatives are waking up to it and have been on it for a while and us real conservatives have our work cut out for us. I appreciate you, sir, and talk to you again, soon.