Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson says it "tickles" him that Iowa voters have an independent streak that seems to counter the so-called "conventional wisdom" of Washington pundits.
"I’m always reminded of the Howard Dean race, you know, when all the experts flew in there and Al Gore flew in and Tom Harkin — he endorsed and it was a done deal what, later than this, in the process," Thompson says. "Well, of course it wasn’t a done deal and the people of Iowa had decided that they themselves had a voice in the thing and they decided something totally different and that just tickles me to death to know that."
Thompson says he’s "going to go from one end of Iowa to the other" as the Caucus campaign closes to give Iowans a chance to size him up in person. "I’m going to be spending a lot of time with them over the next few weeks and at the end of the day they’re going to have an opportunity to see if Fred Thompson is the kind of guy they feel like could be solid and strong and experienced and lead us through what may be turbulent times over these next several years," Thompson says.
Thompson will campaign in Davenport and Des Moines tomorrow and plans to return next week.
To win Iowa’s Caucuses, it appears Thompson would have to best rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee who have been shows leading the Republican field here in recent opinion polls. Thompson suggests Huckabee’s record as governor of Arkansas is flawed.
"I pointed out that Governor Huckabee, for example, has a very high tax record and a very loose record in terms of illegal immigration," Thompson says. "He resisted efforts to curb illegal immigration in his own state. He’s been very, very consistent on that."
On that subject of illegal immigration, Thompson rival Mitt Romney this week fired a landscaping firm that did work at his home after it was discovered the firm had undocumented workers doing landscaping at Romney’s home. Thompson points out this is the second time the firm doing work for Romney had this problem.
"When you’re talking about what a good manager you are and what a great manager you will be, how you’ve been a manager all your life and this sort of thing and then when you have problems kind of in your own back yard, literally, then it brings all those issues back up," Thompson says.
According to Thompson, you’re "under a microscope" when you run for president and you just have to "apply some common sense and do the best you can."
Thompson made his comments during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.