Thompson Goes Home To Campaign

Saturday, September 15th 2007, 9:34 pm
By: News On 6

LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. (AP) Fred Thompson returned to his hometown Saturday for his first Tennessee event since officially announcing his presidential candidacy earlier this month.

Thompson reminisced about growing up ``in a little town, where I knew if I got in trouble, they'd know about it at home before I ever got home.''

Thompson greeted friends and family, including his former in-laws from the marriage to his high school sweetheart that ended in 1985. He remarked that he had ``cousins everywhere'' among the crowd of more than 1,000 that packed into the town square to hear his 25 minute speech.

The former Tennessee senator and star of ``Law and Order'' stressed America's security vulnerabilities and received enthusiastic applause for his comments about the threat of ``radical Islam.''

``These people have no principles; they have no rules to play by,'' Thompson said.

``They are intent on bringing the United States and Western civilization to its knees, and we must not show weakness in the face of this.''

Thompson received the loudest applause for his dismissal of polls that show foreign countries' low opinion of the United States.

``One thing occurs to me: our people have shed more blood for the liberty of other people than all other nations combined,'' he said. ``I'm tired of people feeling the need to apologize for the United States of America.''

Thompson also enjoyed loud support for his stance on illegal immigration.

``I'm concerned about a Washington that's out of touch with the American people,'' he said. ``I'm concerned that not enough people understand that we must secure our borders against illegal immigration.

``A nation that cannot secure its borders will not forever remain a sovereign nation, and we should never forget that.''

Following his speech, Thompson stepped off the stage and was surrounded by a throng of well-wishers and autograph seekers as he painstakingly worked his way to waiting vehicles.

David Linder, a 38-year-old manufacturing engineer from nearby Pulaski, said he supports Thompson because ``he's believable.''

Vilda Work, 72, drove more than an hour from Parsons to see Thompson. She said she has supported Thompson since his senate campaigns because ``he has a pretty level head.''

Thompson had spent the early part of the day walking through rows of assault rifles, pistols and other firearms, signing autographs and greeting voters at a gun show in Lakeland, Fla.

Some of the gun advocates there weren't convinced he was completely on their side.

``I was all for him until I started reading the votes,'' said gun dealer Ken Strevels, standing at a table line with machine guns, including an enormous .50 caliber rifle held up by a tripod. ``I'm not sure now. He's flipping on the vote. It's like he's working both sides.''

Strevels was referencing a Gun Owners of America report that said Thompson voted ``anti-gun'' 14 times on 33 votes the group tracked during his eight years in the Senate, ending in 2003.

Among the Thompson votes the group listed as ``anti-gun'' were votes to appoint a federal judge and another that set restrictions on political fundraising. The group's Web site said Thompson generally votes against gun control.

Asked about anti-gun votes as he walked through the show Thompson there weren't any.

Thompson attended the show during the last day of a three-day bus tour of Florida, where he drew large crowds around the state the week after getting into the race.

He shook hands with people at the Tennessee-Florida college football game in Gainesville, Fla. before heading to Lawrenceburg.