Fred Thompson speaks in DSM

The clock strikes two o’clock.  An expectant hush falls over the crowd, as the event was billed to start at two o’clock.  Alas, Van Halen begins singing "Jump."  And Fred Thompson did jump.  Last night.  On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, when he announced he is an official candidate.

At least two dozen video cameras are positioned on the main press riser to record this event.  It’s Thompson’s first official campaign appearance in Iowa and his first campaign stop after the Leno splash plus Thompson’s video launch last night on the campaign website.

A former Miss Iowa has just been introduced to the crowd.  She will sing the National Anthem.

Now, local radio talk show host J. Michael McCoy is at the microphone as event emcee.  He’s briefing the crowd on the Thompson resume, repeatedly referencing, ‘our man Fred." It appears as if there are approaching 500 people in the room.

Next up, a video introduction.

It begins with some nice movie trailer music.  It’s titled "The Hunt for Red November."  As you recall, Thompson was, I mean played the admiral on the US sub in the movie "The Hunt for Red October."  There are some nice Law & Order-type camera shots of Thompson walking down a hallfway, flanked on his sides by two young aides.  The last words of the video: "a role only Fred Thompson can play" — a reference to Thompson being the only credible presidential candidate.

Fred is itroduced to the crowd.  People start up a "Go, Fred go," chant.   I don’t recognize the song being played over the sound system.

"Thank you very much.  Wow," Thompson said.  "That video brings back a lot of memories."

References his hair in the pictures.  (He had hair, and side burns in some of the ’70s era snaps.)

He clears his throat.  "I want to tell you how special this day is….It is so appropriate that we are right here because in case some person in the United States of America does not know this, it all begins in Iowa…..I am not here today because I have had a life-long ambition to hold the office of the presidency….but I am a man who loves his country, who is concerned about her future….."

He clears his throat again, twice.

"This whole process for us started around our ktichen table a few months ago….the more we looked…the more I thought that something special was going on in this country.  The more I looked around the house, the more it occured to me…what kind of country (are my kids) going to have?"

"I think that the American people have opened up a door of opportunity….wonderful people sometimes saw more in me than I saw in myself….I feel this is another door to serve the country that I love so the preseason is over, let’s get on with it." Crowd claps.  He clears his throat again.

"At the end of the day, if the good Lord is willing, we’ll be victorious," Thompson added.

"I thought about just running that video again and not giving a speech," Thompson told the crowd a bit later.  Described himself as a kid from a small town without a lot of ambition as a kid.

Talks about working graveyard shift at the bicycle plant.  Talks about dining with foreign leaders at foreign capitols around the world.

"One of the things that I focused on kind of early….our nation’s safety…We’re living in an era now of the suitcase bomb….of weapons of mass destruction….destruction that we never thought possible before…Radical Islam has declared war on us….Iraq is a part of that conflict…that conflict will be with us, unfortunately, after Iraq is in our rear-view mirror….If we show weakness and division, we will pay a heavy price for it in the future.  We must show the determination…and do whatever is necessary (in Iraq and beyond)."  Crowd applauds.

"We have the bravest young people in the world….and we have to match their commitment and determination here at home….every waking moment of a commander in chief is to make sure that peole like that don’t make sacrifices in vain."

"Meanwhile, back at home, the politicians have been quite busy spending the next generation’s money…and it will result in astronomically high deficits, a tax burden on the next generation…and a ruination of our economy….this path is unsustainable….Is it lack of will to do the right thing?"

"We’re better than that," Thompson said, vowing to "blow the whistle" on that game.

"I think it’s very important that people understand a man’s principles….as far as I’m concerned, I still have the same common sense conservative beliefs that I had when I ran in 1994….(mentions sanctity of life, less taxes, respect for private prop rights, free & fair trade)….The American people believe in these things, if we just stick with that, we’ll be successful."

Mentions being under Grassley’s tutilage.  Crowd applauds.

"These positions are based upon certain principles.  I call ’em first priniciples….Some things in this changing world just don’t change….It’s based upon the wisdom of the ages….We still get our basic rights from God and not from govt…An understanding that a govt powerful enough to give you anything can take away from you anything….It’s based upon the notion that we want a govt that is limited…but strong enough to protect our people."

Now, he’s talking about govt reform.  "I pointed out just how hopelessly messed up the govt bureaucracy was," Thompson said, referencing a report he co-authored on the subject.  "….It’s going to require strong leadership to do something about it because now we see it’s affecting national security."

Talks about securing the borders.  "Ultimately, a country that cannot secure it’s own borders will not remain a sovereign nation."

"There is a major disconnect between Washington DC and the American people because we lookj to congress and we see division, acrimony…looking toward the next election and not the next generation…It’s kind of ironic that Democrats are moving more and more to the western European system…when countries like France are moving our way…based upon our traditional principles….The rule of law underlies everything else in this country….Unfortunately the rule of law is violated, more often than not, by judges themselves….That’s why I was so happy to stand by Chief Justice Roberts’ side….We need another one or two."

"My friends, this is what I believe and how I believe and will continue to…I think this is what you believe.  I think it’s what the American people believe….Whatever the issues are that we face….the application of those first principles, the application of those common sense conservative beliefs will result in a stronger, stronger nation.  That’s what this is all about.  That’s why I’m here today…..We are citizens of the greatest nation on Earth….That carries with it certain obligations…that we leave this place a little better….Our people have shed more blood for people’s liberty than any other nation in the history of the world….I don’t think we have anything to apologize for."

"We are steeped in the tradition of honor and sacrifice for the greater good…and that greater good is nothing less than the security & prosperity of the greatest nation…It doesn’t matter what the pundits say today, we will win next year when it counts.  My friends our country needs us to win.  I am ready to lead that fight.  Let’s do it together.  Thank you."

Speech over.  Crowd chanting Go Fred Go.

Playing country western song.  "Sing a song about the heartland.  The only place I feel at home….Sing a song about my life," is the lyric.  Bush used this song a lot in 2004. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Rick Trogdon says

    Do we really want another Bush? That is all Fred Thompson is going to be. Really think about it, everything he had to say sounded like Bush was talking to him through an ear piece. Who wants 12 years of this mess!

  2. Rick, if you really think about it, Fred Thompson is no Bush.
    Thompson spent his entire political career fighting for less spending, smaller government, property rights and states rights. He’s a small-government, Goldwater-Reagan conservative antifederalist.
    Bush did not use his veto pen to stop any excessive spending and proved himself to be a big government neocon.
    Fred is in favor of building the fence and sealing the border before we do anything else on immigration. He opposed the Senate immigration bill.
    Bush demanded a comprehensive immigration bill and did not lift a finger to build the fence.
    The two men couldn’t be more different.