ORANGE CITY, Iowa -- Republican Fred Thompson tried to rev up support for his presidential campaign Tuesday by comparing his Democratic rivals to race car drivers who only know how to turn left.
"It's like they're all in training for the NASCAR, you know, nothing but a left turn, just steady as she goes, all the way around," he said at a coffee house in northeastern Iowa.
Thompson, who is running fourth in Iowa polls for the GOP nomination, said Democrats will wind up where they were in 1972, when George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon on an anti-Vietnam War platform.
"I don't think the United States of America is prepared to turn the keys over to the most left-wing part of the left-wing party," he said.
Not that Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and actor, or other Republican candidates have anything against stock car racing or the NASCAR circuit. Motor sports are popular in the South, and President Bush was endorsed by several drivers who campaigned for him before the 2004 election.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, campaigned at last Sunday's race in Florida. It was the third race attended this year by Giuliani, who has admitted he read The Female Fan Guide to Motorsports to get a feel for events.
This month, Thompson visited a NASCAR-themed restaurant in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and joked about his rivals Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
"Now, when Rudy and Mitt come down here from New York and Massachusetts, I want you to be nice to them. And the first thing I want you to do is explain to them what NASCAR is," Thompson said. "It's not a hybrid automobile."
Despite his love of the New York Yankees and opera, Giuliani has reached out to the NASCAR community. NASCAR chairman Brian France and his wife, Amy, are among Giuliani's contributors, according to records compiled by CQ MoneyLine. Drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears each donated $2,300 to Giuliani.