Thompson ‘Flirts’ Around the Issues

By Rick Levinson

Dec 28, 2007 10:11pm

ABC News’ Christine Byun reports: As he closed a Friday night speech in Ft. Madison, Iowa, Republican candidate Fred Thompson dove into a question-and-answer session with another jab at former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

A man — who claimed he was a  Huckabee supporter until a week ago –  asked about Thompson’s stance on the situation in Pakistan following former  Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s death. The man said he was interested in Thompson’s approach to international issues, after not being impressed with Huckabee’s foreign policy experience.

"It is a relevant consideration as to whether a candidate understands the world we live in," Thompson said, adding that national security in relation to international matters should be at the forefront of all campaigns.

While he did not name Huckabee specifically, Thompson drew the ire of an audience member who asked a pointed question about Thompson’s comments and "Democrat-bashing." The woman said she was concerned how such criticisms affect the nation’s unity.

Thompson — who needles Democrats for their positions on government spending and national security during his speeches — responded that he had not called anyone out by name in his prepared remarks.

"I don’t go out of my way to do that, but I am not bashful about discussing the issues of our country," Thompson responded, adding that he was able to work on both sides of the aisle.

The last question gave Thompson a chance for some lighter banter and opened the door to one of his favorite stump subjects: Social Security.

"As my husband and I are kind of getting close to the retirement age …" a woman started.

"You could have surprised me, ma’am. I wouldn’t have guessed it," Thompson interrupted, smiling.

"Well, I am glad to see I haven’t lost my touch," Thompson said as the room laughed.

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