Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Fred Thompson: Who Is This Guy?

Posted by Adam Graham on March 11, 2007

Cross-posted from WhereIStand

Oatney has been talking quite a bit about the possibility of a Fred Thompson Presidential run. In the face of Mitt McRomney, the 3-headed monster of RINOism, the site of another contender has to be seen as good news.

Yet, I’m reminded of dozens of classic episodes of "Get Smart" when either 99 or the Chief will say, "John Gordon is who we need to talk to."

Max gets all excited, "John Gordon, of course John Gordon. Why didn’t I think of it before. John Gordon would be perfect. John Gordon!" He pauses for a moment. "Who’s John Gordon?"

Fred Thompson served eight years in the US Senate and has been an actor. What are his views?  We’ll take a look.

Fiscal Issues:

Thompson’s fiscal record according to National Taxpayer’s Union is solid, receiving an "A"  seven out of eight years of his tenure in Congress. (the other year he got a B+)

I couldn’t find where he’d supported any tax reform proposal like the Fair Tax or the Flat Tax.  Thompson did sponsor a Social Security reform bill. 

Social Issues

Fred Thompson ran as opposed to abortion after the first trimester in Tennessee. His subsequent voting record in the Senate was solidly pro-life, and he voted against affirming Roe v. Wade.  Thompson also helped John Roberts get confirmed.

Thompson’s record indicates he’s not a gay rights backer. He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and against adding homosexuality to the non-discrimination act.

Thompson’s Second Amendment record is solid.


Thompson’s record on immigration appears to be decidedly mixed. In the Senate, Thompson voted against tougher enforcement of immigration laws. Two votes in particular will be of concern to immigration activists:

Sen. Thompson, in committee consideration of S.1664 protected businesses from having to pay higher fines when they are caught hiring illegal aliens. Under the idea that current fines were not enough of a deterrent against businesses cutting their labor costs by hiring illegal aliens, the Senate immigration subcommittee approved higher fines. Various study commissions have found that the willingness of U.S. businesses to hire illegal aliens is the No. 1 incentive for foreign workers to become illegal aliens here. But Sen. Thompson voted with a 10-8 majority in the Judiciary Committee to remove the higher fines from the 1996 legislation against illegal immigration…

Sen. Thompson voted IN FAVOR of the Abraham Amendment to S.1664. He was part of a coalition of pro-business conservatives and liberal civil libertarians who tried to use the amendment to kill the establishment of voluntary pilot programs in high-immigration states. The programs were intended to assist employers in verifying whether people they had just hired had the legal right to work in this country. Such verification is considered by many experts to be an essential tool for withdrawing the job magnet from illegal aliens. The verification system established by S.1664 did not involve an ID card. Rather it provided that when new workers wrote down their Social Security number on an application, employers could phone into a national verification system to help assure that the number was a real number and belonged to the person giving it. In earlier smaller pilot programs, businesses had hailed the verification system for making it easier for them to avoid hiring illegal aliens. Sen. Thompson was unsuccessful in stopping the voluntary verification system. The Senate tabled the by a 54-46 vote.

Thompson did also vote against several amnesty proposals, but given that he wasn’t willing to DO anything to enforce the law, many will question his committment.

Other Conservative Issues

Fred Thompson has an 86% Career ACU Rating. That sounds pretty impressive until you realize John McCain has an 80% rating  and Chuck Hagel has a lifetime rating of 85.2%. The important issue is where does Fred Thompson’s 14% lie?

The big one during his 8 years in Congress is the McCain-Feingold bill. Thompson was a huge advocate of the bill during his time in the Senate and each year his support for the legislation would knock around 4% off his ACU rating. One year, it actually knocked around 12% off as 3 different votes on Campaign reform were counted.

Thompson also voted against Article 1 of Impeachment. Thompson’s Senate statement indicated he thought Article 1 was quite vague which was his principle reason for opposing it.

Thompson also had a tendency to side with trial lawyers and occassionally environmentalists on property rights views. 


Thompson has three areas of concern, two are small and one is huge.

1) Abortion:

Thompson needs to nail down a consistent pro-life position. Thompson has little record of supporting abortion ever, and defining himself as pro-life will help him immensely.

2) Immigration:

Thompson’s past record isn’t bad, but given the current state of immigration affairs, it isn’t great either, he’ll have to nail down a plan for fixing the borders and pronto.

3) Campaign Reform:

This is the big one and why many people will never vote for John McCain. His support of the Campaign Finance Reform Act will scuttle his chances with many conservatives who view the act as an abomination against the Constitution. The system has not worked in practice. However, one of Thompson’s huge issues was supporting CFR during his Senate career, backing away would be a huge flip flop that he’d have to do some fancy footwork to adequately explain.

If Thompson is to seriously run for President in ’08, his decision to leave the Senate may have been one of the wisest he made. With 6 years out of office, he left just after a huge Republican victory in the 2002 US Senate elections with an era of good feelings for the Republicans and their base. Thompson’s role as a tough prosecutor after that can only help his image. 

Changes and adjustments on issues are going to be more easily explained as he’s not run for office since 1996, he hasn’t discussed some over-arching issues in more than a Decade. On paper, a Thompson campaign looks strong. But many campaigns look strong on paper, the real test will come on the trail.


4 Responses to “Fred Thompson: Who Is This Guy?”

  1. Chris [Visitor] said

    draftfredthompson com

    1)Abortion – Fred has ALWAYS been pro-life…We have that information for anyone that would like to click over.

    2)Immigration – Fred has done a number of Paul Harvy radio broadcasts one on this subject called, “Southern Exposure”
    It is listed with 97 other direct links.

    Also look at or listen to “Unsafe In America”.
    After you’ve seen or heard these you’ll know Fred fully understands border security and immigration issues. Trust me on this.

    3) Campaign Reform – McCain-Feingold was a great idea that wound up going wrong…We have that information also.

    Please drop by and talk to any of the 4,500 volunteers or dive into past voting records or current news…Thanks!!

  2. Adam Graham [Member] said

    First of all, read National Right to Life News, November ’94 post-election edition. It has a cross by Thompson’s name indicating support for legal first trimester abortion.

    Second, if Thompson has changed his views on Bi-Partisan Campaign Finance Reform, bully for him. But it was never a “good idea.” It was well-intentioned, but we know that the road to Hell is paved with those.

  3. Adam, I am actually very thrilled to see someone questioning the issues. I am a serious Fred supporter (or will be when he runs), but is still doesn’t hurt to get clarification from the man himself. I am sure he will use the blogosphere and other media outlets to communicate his “fuzzy” areas. The ‘electability’ factor does play a role in my choice, but I honestly feel we need someone a little less pragmatic than what we have.

    Expression is the most valued right of humanity…keep it up. Make him the candidate we need, not the one we think he is. I am hopeful he will rise to the occasion and lead us in the next cycle.

  4. Adam Graham [Member] said

    Thanks. I definitely appreciate the comment. I’m not trying to slam Thompson or support here, just give the facts, because some people are distorting the facts to support him or to oppose him.

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