This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 16, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now with South Carolina just three days away, things are getting very interesting. The Huckabee — Huckabee camp, I should say, reportedly accusing Senator Fred Thompson of staying in the race just to pull votes from Huckabee and in turn help his friend John McCain.
With me now to respond to this is Senator Fred Thompson.
Senator, that's out there. Any truth to it?
FRED THOMPSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Neil.
So, I have been busting a gut here for several months, day and night, away from my family, as a part of a conspiracy to help John McCain become president? That's the theory?
It's an attempt by the Huckabee campaign to get me to attack McCain so they don't have to. If you notice, Huckabee hasn't said anything about McCain. Huckabee's campaign manager hasn't said anything about McCain. Mighty strange, if McCain is leading the race, that their focus is on me, instead of McCain, you know, just kind of South Carolina politics, you know...
CAVUTO: So, you're saying that...
THOMPSON: ... in the closing days.
CAVUTO: OK. OK. We have got calls to the Huckabee camp and as well to Ed Rollins, who runs the campaign, and, so far, they haven't been returned. They're busy, so I will give them benefit of the doubt.
Now, you're saying that this was really an attempt to wedge you out of the race?
THOMPSON: Oh, sure. Sure.
There's no — there's no question about that. Ed Rollins is a wily old fox. He's been around quite a bit. And, if he can goad me into attacking McCain, they won't have to. And, as I say, if you notice, Huckabee hasn't said anything about McCain. I have drawn my distinction with McCain. It's well known that he's a friend of mine. I admire him.
I mean, John was being tortured back when a lot of us were sitting back over here leading comfortable lives. I will never forget that. I have drawn distinctions with him on immigration, on tax cuts. All that's well known.
But I'm not going to let the Huckabee campaign, who is new to the scene, whose record has not been examined thoroughly yet, determine who I talk about or what issues I talk about.
CAVUTO: But I don't think they're saying...
THOMPSON: Governor Huckabee...
CAVUTO: I think, if I understand — this could be such an elaborate chess game that — I barely mastered checkers, Senator, to be clear.
So, I think what they're saying...
THOMPSON: Well, I don't care what they're saying. I'm done with it.
THOMPSON: OK? I'm done with that.
CAVUTO: OK. So, you're not saying there's any truth to that at all, that you're not trying to...
THOMPSON: Of course not. I mean, it's absurd on its face, Neil.
I mean, how many times do I have to say that? We're using valuable time talking about some campaign tactic here in the last few days, when our worst enemies in the world are trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons to use against us, and we're bankrupting the next generation. We have got bigger things to talk about.
CAVUTO: All right.
Well, you talked in the last debate a lot about Governor Huckabee. In fact, you spent a great deal of time bashing his conservative...
THOMPSON: I have spent other debates...
CAVUTO: Right. right.
THOMPSON: I have spent other times in other debates talking about others of my opponents. That's true.
So, onto Governor Huckabee and his conservative credentials. Bottom line, you just doubt them, right?
THOMPSON: Yes. Yes, I do.
I think that he would lead us down — that same campaign manager of his is the one who said the Reagan coalition is dead. And I think he let the cat out of the bag. I think that's what they believe.
I think they want to take us down a more so-called moderate path, and be more like the Democrats in a lot of ways. And, so, that's why I said and I thought the heart of the Republican Party was going be determined in this election in South Carolina.
So, we just have some difference on the — on the issues. And, when you look at this record on illegal immigration in Arkansas, and his tax record, growth of government record, his endorsement by the National Education Association, where he appeared at their conference, the only Republican there among all the Democrats, you know, we have some different philosophical differences. And I'm not going to be bashful about pointing them out.
CAVUTO: But I think...