Jeri Thompson Explains Why Latest Poll Numbers Aren't Getting Husband Fred Down

Published November 21, 2007

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 20, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST CO-HOST: One candidate is seeing some challenges, though, in the polls. And that's Fred Thompson, who was in last place in the latest New Hampshire survey, second place in most national polls. And joining us right now from Washington is Jeri Thompson, the wife of Fred Thompson. Jeri, it's great to see you.

JERI THOMPSON, FRED THOMPSON'S WIFE: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

INGRAHAM: What — first of all, I'm sure you've just heard the segment we just did. And I am concerned about the debate in this country. And obviously it got heated. But I don't like it whether we have people intimidating other people from speaking on college campuses. And that civility that we need in debates I think is missing in this country. I really do.

THOMPSON: Well, I'm glad you mentioned David Horowitz, because I think that the work that he's done in the center and the books that he's written on this are really important. I think that those are the sort of texts that we ought to be reading. Those are the things that we ought to be talking about. The intimidation not only on the campuses themselves, but you know, through the texts — through the texts that our children are reading, which I know is a concern of you and definitely as a mother of two children. It's a concern to me.

INGRAHAM: Jeri, let's...

THOMPSON: Not just what we're hearing. It's what they're reading.

INGRAHAM: Let's go through some of these polls.

THOMPSON: Sure.

INGRAHAM: Nationally, Fred is trailing by about nine points in one of the major polls. In New Hampshire...

THOMPSON: Which makes him — which makes him second.

INGRAHAM: Which makes him second. In Iowa, he's in fourth place. And he's in sixth place in New Hampshire. 29 points in New Hampshire behind Romney. My question is, are you surprised about those numbers? And do you worry that he got in too late at this point and that's why this — not the traction maybe that you would have hoped for at this point?

THOMPSON: No. I think, you know, first off, most folks right now are worried about probably packing their bag right now and filling their car up with gas. They're just going to start taking a — taking a look at the candidates and taking a look at the issues here. And you know, some candidates have spent, you know, upwards of $60 million.

They've been on — I know one of the candidates has been on for over two months, you know, spending about $1 million a week. That buys — it buys a lot of attention, but it doesn't necessarily buy you the vote at the end. You can — you know, at this point, at the — in the election, last cycle around, Howard Dean was expected to win. John Kerry was sort of written out. And you can ask President Dean at this point, you know, if things are fluid and things change.

This is a snapshot. And Fred...

INGRAHAM: We're getting close, though. We got six weeks to go. We're getting up there.

THOMPSON: We got six weeks, but look what Fred — look what Fred Thompson has come out with in the last couple of weeks, the most detailed immigration plan. The strongest immigration plan of any of these guys out there. He has not been running since he's been in high school. But what he does have and what "The National Review" called, you know, setting a standard on Social Security reform, saving Social Security, Fred Thompson's plan. I haven't seen anybody else's.

INGRAHAM: Well, it's very specific. And "National Review", I think, did give him major props for that.

THOMPSON: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: One of the criticisms of your husband, and this is from Dick Morris, — and I'm sure you know this — he was on FOX News channel. And he said that Fred Thompson won't come on with Bill O'Reilly because he's lazy. And then said several other things kind of along those lines.

And I know you guys have invited Bill to spend an hour with the campaign, with Fred and all the campaign staffers...

THOMPSON: Right.

INGRAHAM: And that might or might not happen. But what do you make of that criticism? You hear it a lot. He doesn't have the passion that you have more of the passion about this than he does. How do you respond to that?

THOMPSON: Yes, well, several levels. First off, Fred Thompson has a long and — a long and very prominent career before he met me. And he certainly — you know, certainly didn't need the passion at 17 to work his way through law school to become a prosecutor, a federal prosecutor at the age of 28 and, you know, be minority counsel at age 30 in addition to all the other things that he's done in his accomplished career. So I think someone needs to take a look at that.

You know, Dick obviously has — likes and dislikes of particular people. And he's got particular reasons for those. And that's certainly not for me to judge on why he says those things, but Dick Morris does not know my husband's work habits.

The people that know Fred in Tennessee and that have worked with him for years love him, know him and love him from the state that he's from. You know, not all the other candidates can say such a thing. And I think that's sort of interesting that Dick might say that.

When Fred decided to put aside the two contracts that he had, both with "Law and Order" and with ABC Radio, he was on the U.S.-China Commission and the International Security Advisory Board.

INGRAHAM: So he wants this, Jeri. He wants this badly. 24-7, he wants this?

THOMPSON: You know, there's a difference between what people think they want in a candidate and what they need as — you know, they need for their president.

Listening to what you're talking about, you know, looking what's going on in Iraq here, for goodness' sake, The New York Times actually said something positive today. You know, I have hopes that they'll actually talk about the plans that Fred talks about for America. People need to think about who they want on the other side of the table with some of these world leaders. Do they want it to be someone who doesn't know who they are, who didn't know who they are yesterday, who won't know who they are tomorrow?

INGRAHAM: You're not talking about Mitt Romney, are you, Jeri?

THOMPSON: I'm talking about...

INGRAHAM: You're not naming names.

THOMPSON: There are several out there. And you know, and it's also - - he cares about not just about our national security, but our economic security. We've got to think about someone who's going to be fiscally conservative here. Fred Thompson has never voted, you know, to increase — he's cut taxes three times. Three major times when he was in Congress.

INGRAHAM: And he — and he also got...

THOMPSON: And he will do so again.

INGRAHAM: He also got the big endorsement from the National Right to Life to which Mike Huckabee, who considers himself strongly pro-life, he said he was taken aback by that which I found interesting. How are you managing on the campaign trail, Jeri? You have two small children. I know you're trying to balance that. A lot of women try to balance work and family, but you're really ultimately trying to do it.

THOMPSON: Right. Well, no different than any other mom, you know, trying to juggle. I don't go every time with Fred, but I' am going to be in New Hampshire with him on Friday and South Carolina with him on Saturday with the kids. And you know, we do the best we can to try to make it work, you know, for the family first. And then, you know, for him, on the campaign trail second.

INGRAHAM: Jeri, I really appreciate your taking the time to join us.

THOMPSON: Thank you so much, Laura. I appreciate you.

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