Thompson's Iowa Strategy: Move In

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 19, 2007; 2:43 PM

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- There's nothing complex about Tommy Thompson's road map to the White House.

"I intend to win Iowa," said Thompson.

His plan for winning the nation's first caucus is equally simple: Spend more time in the state than any of his competitors.

"I've always been the underdog and I've always outworked," said Thompson. "That's why I've been in Iowa every single week since the first of December. People say you've been here so long you're going to have to start paying taxes."

Thompson typically holds three or four events in Iowa each week, often in rural towns. He'll talk over pancakes or coffee with a dozen or so folks at each stop.

He frequently focuses on welfare reform and health care, two issues he championed as governor from 1987 to 2001 in neighboring Wisconsin and as head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In courting activists, Thompson stresses his Midwestern roots and rural background. He comes from tiny Elroy, Wis., where his father ran a gas station and grocery store.

Thompson described Elroy as "a city so small that you can call somebody and get a wrong number and still talk for half an hour."

As people get to know him, Thompson said they buy into his strategy.

"I'm running as a candidate from Wisconsin, a governor from Wisconsin who spends all of his spare time in Iowa," said Thompson. "I don't believe a Republican can get elected next year as president of the United States without carrying Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I believe I'm the strongest candidate to do that."

Others don't share Thompson's confidence.

Des Moines lawyer Steve Roberts, a member of the Republican National Committee, said Thompson made his long-shot effort even harder when he told a Jewish group Monday that earning money is "part of the Jewish tradition." He later apologized for the remark.

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