This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 2, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And former Wisconsin governor, Tommy Thompson, is setting his sights on the presidency, armed with a pretty hefty resume. He's calling himself the conservative of the field. But will the voters see him that way?
Joining us now, presidential candidate Tommy Thompson.
By the way, Governor, you have my sympathy. And we wish you the best of luck. Thanks for being with us.
You call yourself the dark horse candidate. Iowa or bust. And you're the reliable conservative in the race. Are the other candidates not conservative?
TOMMY THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I think a lot of the candidates are conservative, but I think when you look at my record, 1,900 vetoes. I don't think any other governor has had that many vetoes. I vetoed over $16.5 billion of taxes and income spending that the Democrats passed.
I started welfare reform in America, reduced welfare caseload by 93 percent while I was governor.
Started the first school choice program, so that parents could choose the best schools, secular, as — religious, nonsectarian, as well as charter schools run by the city, the university.
And I think when you look at that, and find out also that I was also responsible setting up a bioterrorism program at the Department of Health and Human Services, that's a very good, complete, comprehensive, reliable, conservative record.
HANNITY: I'm not going to dispute any of that. I loved what you did to welfare reform. I loved what you did with school choice issues. And you know...
THOMPSON: Thank you. Thank you, Sean.
HANNITY: No, no, no. You — I think you led the way and actually, you know, given results to people. I think you've been a leader in a lot of these great issues here.
Let me ask you this. You said you would have had a completely different strategy in Iraq. And I found it interesting. One of the things you would want to do is sort of bring a referendum to the Iraqi people. Do you want us here or not?
THOMPSON: I would — there's no question about it, I would have asked the al-Maliki government, not a referendum on the people but the government which is duly elected, which we brag about. Let's give them the opportunity to vote if they want America in Iraq.
And first off, if they vote yes, which I'm sure they would, it immediately gives a legitimacy for our country being there. And if they vote no, we should get out.
HANNITY: But you're a fan of the president. You believe he did the right thing?
THOMPSON: Yes, I am a fan of the president, as it relates to some of the things he's done. I believe that we didn't do enough in the Iraq war.
I think we should have followed Colin Powell much better. And that is, when you go to war, go in with enough power and enough strength to overcome and be able to protect the borders. I think we should have left the army intact long enough to protect those borders.
And I think we should have had a withdrawal strategy. That's what Colin Powell has always taught us. And I believe his strategy would have been much better.
HANNITY: You have some very tough words for the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. And you went on to say you make terrible mistakes. You wouldn't have appointed him. You would have appointed somebody who is loyal to the president.
But he is loyal to the president, as much as he's been a close friend, a personal advisor, attorney. But — and this is a political appointment. These U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president.
THOMPSON: No, I said what I said, Sean, is that I would appoint somebody different than Gonzales, because he is loyal to President Bush. I would have appointed somebody loyal to me if I was in that position.
But the president has got to appoint people that are loyal to them and carry out their particular programs.
HANNITY: But isn't this politics...
THOMPSON: I don't think there's no question that Attorney General Gonzales has made several mistakes. And I think everybody has recognized that.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Isn't that — Governor, welcome to the show. Isn't that one of the problems that President Bush has had, that he's put loyalty is over who the best, most competent people would be?
THOMPSON: No, I don't — I don't believe that. I believe the president of the United States has got to put people in place, in positions of power that are going to be able to do what is necessary to carry out the president's bidding.
The president is the one that's duly elected. He's the one that's the commander in chief. He's the individual that has the programs. And he needs individuals in the cabinet positions that are going to implement those positions.
COLMES: Are you a better conservative than Rudy Giuliani or John McCain?
THOMPSON: Well, I think if you look at my record, I'm not going to disparage anybody. I am running a very positive campaign. I believe they're excellent individuals. And I just believe that I have a program and ideas that this country could badly use.
COLMES: You were head of Health and Human Services. Do you support stem cell research?
THOMPSON: I support stem cell research, because it shows great promise. But that does not mean, Alan, and I that's what I think you're driving at, whether or not you have to destroy embryos.
There's great science going on, on amniotic fluids, as cord blood. And right now, at the University of Wisconsin there's new research being done that shows that adult stem cells could have pure potency if you could do it correctly and may have all the virtues of embryonic stem cells.
Therefore, you would not have to destroy any embryos. And that to me shows tremendous promise as a lot of stem cell does.
COLMES: Would you try to make embryonic stem cell research illegal and continue on the path that this president's been on?
THOMPSON: At the present time, you do not have to lift the barrier on embryonic stem cells, Alan. Because there are still some lines that have not been utilized.
And as I've indicated, amniotic fluid, cord blood, and adult stem cells show great promise. So why kill embryos or destroy embryos when you have the opportunity to do and accomplish the same thing without doing that?
COLMES: Should abortion remain legal?
THOMPSON: Abortion should not be made legal.
COLMES: You want to make it illegal?
THOMPSON: Abortion should be illegal, yes.
COLMES: You want to arrest women who have abortions and arrest doctors?
THOMPSON: No, I would not want to arrest women, Alan, and you know that.
COLMES: I didn't know that. That's why I asked the question.
Thank you, sir, for...
THOMPSON: You and I — you and I have discussed this before. That's always — that's always the way that individual liberals try and embarrass Republican conservatives.
COLMES: I'm not trying to embarrass you. I'm trying to ask your position, your state of position.
THOMPSON: The question is whether or not you're pro-life or pro- choice, and I happen to be pro-life.
COLMES: I'm not trying to embarrass you. I'm simply trying to derive your position, sir. Thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.
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