Fred Thompson backs Gingrich as race tightens in Florida

Former Tennessee senator on his choice for president


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, Mr. "Law & Order" says it is Newt and only Newt.

Actor and former Senator Fred Thompson throwing his support behind the guy who has thrown this presidential race for a loop.

Thompson, himself a former presidential candidate who didn't quite go all the way, on why he's convinced that one Newt Gingrich will.

Senator, very good to have you.

FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Very good to be back with you, Neil. Thank you. And I appreciate the gentle treatment that you just gave my candidacy.


CAVUTO: Let's talk a little bit about Newt Gingrich and why now, why did you step in. Obviously others were seeing your backing, you held off. Now Newt, and I'm wondering, why now?

THOMPSON: Well, same reason I got in politics to start with, Neil, that old concern about the growth of your country and the future of your country.

I think the way you look at the candidates depends on the way you look at the country. And I don't how to put this strongly enough. I think we are in deep trouble and getting in deeper trouble. We know about our debt. We know about our future if we look toward what is happening to Europe now.

We know we are at a tipping point now in so many ways into becoming a full-fledged welfare state. The Fed has now announced that apparently they think we are Japan. And they are gonna keep interest rates rock-bottom until at least the end of 2014, which is nothing more than a holding pattern, which says to investors that the United States does not have its act together and is not doing anything structurally to get itself out of this dilemma.

We are going to need somebody tough. We are going to need somebody articulate. We are going to need somebody that is not afraid of the power centers in this country to shake things up. And maybe it is an impossible job.

Maybe we have gone too far. But I will tell you one thing. We know that it can't be done by someone who is a little timid, a little bashful, a little -- has a little difficulty getting off their talking -- when they get off their talking points sometimes, and comes with modest proposals.

It is not the time for that. It is time for a different kind of approach from a different kind of guy. And I think that is Newt.

CAVUTO: You have worked with him and you know him very well, but do you fine it troubling that so many who have worked with him and know him equally well, some of them better, don't think he is the guy for the job, and are troubled by that? They say he is too divisive, too volatile.

THOMPSON: Well, I don't find it troubling.

In the first place, it is a small percentage. It's the percentage that you are hearing from. I mean, Mitt's the frontrunner. I mean a lot of people have assumed he is going to be president of the United States. And the people, especially around Washington, take note of that. And they don't -- they don't want to get on the wrong side of the wrong guy.

So it was very popular for a while to come in and settle some old scores.

CAVUTO: But I never heard this about Mitt Romney. That is why I am asking that. And maybe you are right. Maybe personal likability doesn't come into it.


CAVUTO: But you are not going with Mitt Romney. And what don't you like about Mitt Romney?


THOMPSON: Everybody assumed that Mitt was going to be the nominee, and maybe the next president, I think, is probably part of it.

Plus, he is probably a nice guy. Newt rubs some people the wrong way. That doesn't bother me at all. That is part of what I'm talking about.

CAVUTO: So, when he goes after, as he did earlier, Bain Capital and private capital and whether it goes too far -- he has since, as I said, retreated from some of the more volatile comments there.

But he has still made it a theme about whether everything he did, that is Mitt Romney did, at Bain Capital was that productive. Do you think that is the type of debate that Republicans should be having?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, it is a rough-and-tumble business.

And you -- you are going to have some of that. The last debate, you know, all I saw that Mitt wanted to talk about is, you know, days gone by, and, you know, what is a lobbyist and what a lobbyist can do and can't do, and was Newt one. And you present the contract, and it is not in there, and, well, you are one anyway, and on and on and on.

CAVUTO: All right.

THOMPSON: I get back -- I don't care about all of that.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

THOMPSON: Maybe somebody does on either side.

CAVUTO: Gotcha. Fred Thompson, thank you.

THOMPSON: But I do care -- I do care about this.

CAVUTO: All right.

THOMPSON: Newt has shown leadership, the only --

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

THOMPSON: -- guy in political office who has shown leadership.


CAVUTO: Believe me, Fred, I do want to -- we are going to get cut off when we go to commercial.

But thank you very much.

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