Former GOP Hopeful Fred Thompson on the Presidential Race

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: We are 138 days from November 4, and Barack Obama has just released his first general election campaign ad. Let's take a peek.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Barack Obama. America is a country of strong families and strong values. My life's been blessed by both. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. We didn't have much money, but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. Accountability and self reliance, love of country, working hard without making excuses.


COLMES: And this spot is set to air in 18 states. It underscores family and patriotism. This is notable, because Obama has been dogged by Internet rumors about his values and upbringing.

With us now, former Republican presidential candidate, Fred Thompson.

Senator Thompson, welcome to the show.


Videos: Part 1 | Part 2

COLMES: Are you thinking as you're looking at this race, "Boy, I wish I was in it"?

THOMPSON: Well, I think we've got the candidate that we ought to have in this one.

COLMES: Obama?

THOMPSON: No, the other — the other guy. The other guy.

COLMES: All right. Let me ask you about the ad. We just played a little clip of that. And, you know, if you're constantly besieged by rumors that you're a Muslim, rumors that you're not truly an American, called anti-American, what do you think of that response in terms of the ad we just showed?

THOMPSON: You know, the only people that I have heard mention those - - those rumors and those comments have been from the Obama campaign.

COLMES: No, no. You don't read the same sites I read.

THOMPSON: I'm not saying — well, I'm sure you read a lot more sites than I do. But, you know, as someone who follows — it's just kind of interesting. I'm not saying that somebody's not out there, but they are promoting the dickens out of this thing. I mean, they — they have — they have highlighted these things, and they talk about it a lot. And then they shoot it down, of course.

But, you know, I would be interested in seeing, besides them, you know, exactly what people are doing out there.

COLMES: Well, I can tell you specifically, for example, that Floyd Brown, the guy who did the Willie Horton ad, is trying to raise money by trying to make viral a YouTube offering asking the question is Barack Obama a Muslim, and he's claiming that Barack is because he was born Muslim, because his father allegedly was.

So you've got Floyd Brown out there, certainly, trying to raise money on the right to promote this false idea.

THOMPSON: He did the Willie Horton ad?


THOMPSON: I didn't know he worked for Al Gore.

COLMES: That's very funny. As you know, Al Gore didn't mention Willie Horton. He mentioned the furlough release program. Not important by name, but I'm sure you know that to be true.

THOMPSON: OK, OK. All right.

COLMES: A nice little dig there. What campaign is this? This is 2008 one, isn't it? Is that the one we're talking about?

THOMPSON: Oh, you have such a short memory.

COLMES: All right. So — but that ad by itself, talking about values, talking about family, talking about patriotism, is that not a positive way to reintroduce Obama to the general election public?

THOMPSON: Good ad. Good ad. I've got to say, what — I saw it once, and listening to it here without seeing it, very effective. Good ad.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Senator, by the way, you're on your game tonight. Any time you get — you get Alan Colmes like that, I'm — I'm your biggest fan here.

Senator, look, I want to go back to this idea, are we the victims of a manipulation campaign, a marketing campaign, a propaganda campaign?

In other words, The New York Times writes today that Michelle Obama has got a new speech writer, a new chief of staff. They're telling — trying to soften her image. They send her on "The View," and she's going to talk about, quote, "her background." She does all of that yesterday. She's, you know, basically regurgitating rehearsed lines. Isn't this all marketing? This isn't the real...

THOMPSON: Imagine that, in a political campaign.

No, they — you know, they're coming out with putting her in a good light, and of course that's what you would expect them to do. She made some comments early on that caused a little bit of trouble for her in the campaign. And they're trying to counteract that, and they're putting the full-court press on, yes.

HANNITY: Some of the issues that are emerging in this campaign, and I want to get into the Supreme Court decision and national security, certainly, one of the biggest differences exist between the two candidates.

But the price of a gallon of gasoline. Senator, I'm telling you the e-mail, the letters, the phone calls. I'm telling you, people are angry, especially now that they're discovering that we have, under our feet here in America, we have more oil than the Middle East combined when we look at all our resources.

John McCain wants to drill; Barack Obama does not. How big an issue will this be in the campaign?

THOMPSON: Well, I think it will be a big issue. People are concerned about it. It's been something that's been building for a long, long time. We're too dependant on people that wish us no good, and we've known that for a long time. And it's only when gasoline prices rise, unfortunately, that it's highlighted, and people are willing to take some action.

But it's action that's long overdue, as you point out. We have a lot of resources here that we've got to utilize and buy ourselves time to develop the technology and develop the other means by which we can provide energy in this country. But it's got to be a part of the solution.

We can't drill our way totally out of the problem, but we can go a long way toward a short-term solution that will help us ultimately solve that problem.

HANNITY: All right. When we come back, we're going to ask Senator Thompson the big question. Would he take that No. 2 slot? He's dying to answer it. You can just tell.

Coming up next, House Minority Leader John Boehner, he takes a shot at Barack Obama's campaign strategy and says the Illinois senator cannot win in November. We'll have more with Senator Thompson after the break.

Plus should Obama be concerned about whether voters find him honest and trustworthy? The results of our brand-new FOX News poll, coming up straight ahead.



REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: While some people think Obama is a strong candidate for them, I'm going to tell you what. He can't win Ohio. That's probably why his campaign people are saying well, we can win without Ohio. But I think he's going to have serious problems winning Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. You can't forgo all four of those states. As a matter of fact, you can't forgo three of those states.


HANNITY: And that was House Minority Leader John Boehner blasting the Obama campaign for writing off states that could be essential to a November victory.

And we continue now with former senator, Fred Thompson.

I know I've asked this once before, but I'll ask it again. Because I am relentless.

THOMPSON: Yes. You are relentless.

HANNITY: I am. But you like me anyway. Your name doesn't come up a lot, and I was surprised, because early on it did.

THOMPSON: Is that why you keep asking me?

HANNITY: That's why I keep asking you, because...

THOMPSON: Maybe it's because the show that we had that you had me on the show, and you asked me point blank, and I was pretty definitive about what I thought about it. I like to think that might have something to do with it.

HANNITY: All right. So it's a definite no. I just want to double- check.

THOMPSON: No, I don't have any desire to do that, and I don't — I don't want that, and I'm not going to do that.

HANNITY: Definitive.

THOMPSON: You know, I say it is so presumptuous for people to go around and make comments about that, you know, when you're probably not going to be asked anyway. But...

HANNITY: Senator...

THOMPSON: ... that's the position you guys put us in, so we have to respond as best we can.

HANNITY: Now that's — save those attacks for Alan.


HANNITY: But I would argue, Senator, that honestly, I think if you did throw your name in the hat as somebody who expressed publicly that there would be an interest, I think you would be considered for a lot of different reasons: your background, your experience, geographical location and you're an overall nice guy.

THOMPSON: Seriously, for a moment. Thank you for all that. I hate to cut you off in the middle of that. Thank you for all that. But it's a personal thing.

I shouldn't denigrate the job of vice president, for sure. But I was only interested in one job, and I saw an outside shot at that at a particular point in time. Maybe you can catch lightning in a bottle. It didn't work out. That's fine.

I said at the time if it didn't work out, I'd just go back to being the happiest man you ever saw. And the people took me up on it.

HANNITY: I'm glad you're happy.

THOMPSON: And I am the happiest man that you saw.

HANNITY: You have been commenting pretty extensively about the Supreme Court decision.


HANNITY: And I agree with all your commentary on it. I think you've been dead on. But I want you to address that, and that is conferring constitutional rights to enemy combatants, something we've never done before in our history.

But more importantly, some of the positions. And sort of juxtapose that to the positions that Barack Obama has had about negotiating with rouge nations, without preconditions, Ahmadinejad. "They're a tiny country. They're not a serious threat in Iran."

Why don't you explain to the — why national security could be a defining issue in the campaign?

THOMPSON: Well, because of the things that you just mentioned. I think Senator Obama does not recognize the fact that this country is at war, and we're going to be under threat from Islamic terrorism for a long, long time. And we've been fortunate that we haven't been attacked lately, but we can't — we can't let our guard down. And I'm afraid we're beginning to do that.

And to treat terrorists the way we do American citizens is — is a pretty serious mistake in my mind. This court decision, I think, is going to have very unfortunate ramifications for us.

No. 1, they're making policy. No. 2, it's bad policy. Supreme Court, again, you know, took over from the other two branches of government. Policy making in an area that they don't belong in. And secondly, they ignored the procedural safeguards that we've had in place for years now that these people already have that are much more than the Geneva Convention requires. And they said we've got to have even more.

Senator Obama has come along, as I understand it. It says that basically we should be trying these people in American courts anyway. And the first instance in criminal trials and uses the blind sheik case in New York as an example of what we ought to be doing.

COLMES: They actually prosecuted people in 1993. They actually went to jail. Let me show you what Obama...

THOMPSON: Let me talk about — you mentioned that again. That's the worst example that you and Senator Obama could possibly bring up, Alan.

COLMES: I'm not running.

THOMPSON: In that — no, in that case we divulged — the United States had to divulge classified information and material that went back to the terrorists.

Usama bin Laden's name was on a list of indicted — unindicted coconspirators, and they were forced to turn that over to the defense. And within ten days, Usama bin Laden knew that, knew that he had been targeted. And there was other classified information.

COLMES: I'm sure you can conduct trials without revealing classified information. But I want to show you Obama...

THOMPSON: They didn't in the one big case that had everybody's attention. They were not able to, because of a decision...

COLMES: And they obtained prosecutions. They put people in jail. They put the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in jail.

But let me show you Obama in his own words, because he keeps being taken out of context. And people keep saying all he wants to do is use the criminal justice system. Here's what he says he will do. Let's watch.


OBAMA: Senator McCain's campaign has said I want to pursue a law enforcement approach when it comes to terrorism. This is demonstrably false, since I've laid out a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes military force, intelligence operations, financial sanctions, and diplomatic action.


COLMES: Do you have any problem with that? He'd use military force. He talked about a four-pronged approach?

THOMPSON: No, he changed — he's changing the subject, Alan. This has nothing to do with the way you — you treat these prisoners, whether or not they should be given rights in an American court system.

COLMES: All they're talking about is habeas corpus, which has been in place since the Magna Carta. That's all that really....

THOMPSON: Obama has — well, not only has that not been in place for foreign prisoners and detainees, Obama would say, in the first instance, they should be given a trial and a criminal trial just like everybody else, the right to counsel, the burden of proof. The government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's — that's inimical to our interests and unprecedented in the annals of conflict.

COLMES: Five-four Supreme Court ruling, seven of the justices appointed by Republicans, by the way.

THOMPSON: Big deal.

COLMES: We thank you, Senator.

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