Thompson Stresses His Conservative Credentials

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Thompson Stresses His Conservative Credentials

ON THE BUS IN IOWA, Sept. 7 -- On his second full day of official campaigning, Fred Thompson spoke at length about his health and his opinions about Iraq, Social Security, homosexuality and abortion, both in an interview with reporters and at events around the state.

When speaking to voters, the former senator from Tennessee stresses his "100 percent" record on opposition to abortion, and he repeated that Friday. But he said he opposes making women subject to criminal sanctions.

"I've always said that I did not believe that young girls and their families should be criminalized. They can do whatever they want to abortion doctors, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "If it comes down to giving criminal sanctions to 18-, 19-year-old girls and their mama, I'm against that."

He also declined to agree with a questioner in Sioux City who suggested that gay people are deviant. He said he supports a constitutional amendment that would prohibit judges from overturning state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

"I'm not going to pass judgment on several million of my fellow citizens. Anybody that knows me knows how I feel about the importance of a family . . . of traditional marriage," he said. "It's the thing I want for my children. But it goes back to the unity we were talking about. As president of the United States one should not go out of their way to castigate or pass judgment publicly on a large segment of people."

Gary Bauer, a leading conservative activist who once ran the Christian Coalition, said religious leaders are pleased that Thompson is seeking ways to bar gay people from marrying each other, but he said Thompson's approach, while novel, does not go far enough.

"A lot of pro-family leaders are going to want to have a chance to talk with him to make the case that even this approach doesn't completely solve the problem that they see," he said. "It would be difficult to have a country that has different definitions of marriage."

Thompson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2004, discussed his health and said doctors have assured him that the particular kind of cancer that he has is very survivable.

"It is a chronic illness. . . . I've heard doctors use the comparison to diabetes," he said.

On Iraq, Thompson offered flat-out support for the decision to invade and for the president's troop buildup earlier this year. In speeches, he frequently refers to Saddam Hussein as having been "a madman," and on the bus he repeated his belief that the war is justified.

There have been lighter moments on the campaign trail, too. At one appearance, Thompson's 3-year-old daughter, Hayden, ran on the stage and clasped Thompson's left leg, making the audience swoon.

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