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MSNBC "Super Tuesday"-Transcript

Interview

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MSNBC "Super Tuesday"-Transcript

MS. BREWER: Good day, I'm Contessa Brewer. This is MSNBC's all- day "Super Tuesday" political coverage.

We're just four days away from the Ames straw poll in Iowa. And the results could make or break Tommy Thompson's campaign for president. The former Health and Human Services secretary, former governor of Wisconsin joins us live.

Governor Thompson, great to see you today.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, Contessa, it's always a pleasure to be on your program. Thank you.

MS. BREWER: Let's talk a little bit about numbers here. The latest Washington Post ABC News poll finds you at the bottom of the pack in Iowa with 4 percent of the vote.

If you consider the margin of error here, statistically you could be tied for third place. Do you feel like you still have a shot? Will you call it quits if you don't make a strong showing in Ames straw poll Saturday?

MR. THOMPSON: (Laughs.) I've already told everybody that if you don't win, place or show, you should get out of the race. And I've elevated even higher for myself. If I don't come in first or second, I'm not going to continue.

But I fell very good about my chances. I'm the only candidate that's traveled to all 99 counties. I've just ended a 20 day, 110- city tour throughout all of Iowa. And I feel very good about my chances. And if I don't come in first or second, I'll say, "I tried, gave it my all." And I'll go home to Wisconsin. But I really feel good about my chances and I feel that I'll come in either first or second on Saturday.

MS. BREWER: You know, it's interesting, Governor Thompson, because you have been a very successful politician elected to an unprecedented four terms as governor of Wisconsin.

MR. THOMPSON: Right.

MS. BREWER: You're known for pioneering welfare reform in the '80s and '90s. You're from the important battleground state of Wisconsin. And yet a new poll out from USA Today shows you only have 2 percent of Republican voters nationwide on your side. Are you surprised that more people across the country haven't latched on to your campaign?

MR. THOMPSON: Of course I am. But let's see what it's going to be next week. If I win the Iowa straw poll, that'll change overnight. And I think that's what it's going to take. And if I can't do that then I'm smart enough to recognize that I'm not going to make it.

MS. BREWER: Are you ready to talk --

MR. THOMPSON: And I feel very good.

MS. BREWER: Are you ready to talk to some of the viewers out there?

MR. THOMPSON: Oh, sure.

MS. BREWER: All right.

MR. THOMPSON: I've been talking to them ever since the first week in December. I haven't missed a week since December in Iowa.

MS. BREWER: Let's --

MR. THOMPSON: So go ahead.

MS. BREWER: Let's go to Elk Grove, California and David joins me on the phone.

David, here's Governor Thompson. You're free to ask him a question.

DAVID: All right. I've got a question for you.

MR. THOMPSON: Sure, David.

DAVID: I just want to know how you Republicans can still win this election when the majority of the people that are against this war. That's what I want to know.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I think the Republicans are on the wrong side. If you looked at my plan in which I'm trying to get people to look at, I've made it come out different than all the Republican candidates running for president.

First, I would require the -- (inaudible) -- government to vote as to whether or not they want the United Stated in their country. We've been there four years, going on five years and if they vote yes, tell us how you're going to help us pay for the war and tell us how you're going to fight to win that war with American troops.

Secondly, I would have all 18 territories which are geographically defined elect own leaders. And you'll find Shi'ites elect Shi'ite governments. Sunnis will elect Sunni governments and Kurds will elect Kurd governments. And that will stabilize the civil war that's going on there.

The third thing I would do, the same thing we do in Alaska and that's split the oil revenue -- one third to the federal government, one third to the states governments and one third to every man, woman and child.

If you did that, every man, woman and child would have a stake in their government, would start using that money to build businesses and would rally stabilize that country.

So my plan is out there and I have yet to find anybody to say that it would not work.

MS. BREWER: David, thank you for calling in. I appreciate your time today.

DAVID: Thanks.

MS. BREWER: And Governor Thompson, great to talk to you. Thank you for making yourself clear. We'll look forward to seeing how that Iowa straw poll turns out for you.

MR. THOMPSON: Thank you so very much, Contessa. Good luck to you.


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