ABC News’ Christine Byun Reports: After a period of trying to stay about ‘the fray’, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is sharpening his tongue … and taking names.
From a sports bar in Fort Mill, S.C, the former Senator accused his party rival former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney of "buying" support in the Palmetto State.
"Governor, you can’t buy South Carolina, you can’t even rent South Carolina!" Thompson shouted, accusing Romney of spending "$20 million of his own personal fortune" in his White House bid.
The crowd – some who stood on chairs to see the 6’5" candidate – cheered.
The Romney campaign fired back in a statement Tuesday,"Support from voters is earned though hard work and new ideas. Unfortunately for Fred Thompson, he has never shown much passion for either. Governor Romney is working hard across South Carolina to build a great team of supporters that continues to grow. His support is the result of reaching out to voters and showing them that he has the vision the experience and the values to lead America."
During the South Carolina event, Thompson also targeted "the left wing part of the left wing party" for being soft on national security and weak on foreign intelligence. Riffing on speculation that he lacks "fire in the belly" for the presidency, he batted away the notion saying he had the "sound judgment" to help guide the country.
"Ultimately, the American people have to ask themselves, do they want someone with their finger on the nuclear button who has fire in their belly … Or her belly?" Thompson asked, alluding to Democratic candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton.
He also accused the "so-called top tier candidates" for shifting their positions on immigration. Thompson did not name anyone specifically, but broadly charged his opponents with supporting the defeated McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, which both Romney and Giuliani opposed this past year.
"Everyone of my opponents in the race supported that bill, except me – now, you’ve got the right to change your mind, but you don’t have the right to rewrite history," Thompson said, leaving out that only Senator John McCain of the "top-tier candidates" supported the final bill.