MSNBC Super Tuesday - Transcript
MS. O'DONNELL: And of course the Republican candidates are waging their own battle for their party's nomination. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll shows Rudy Giuliani leading Fred Thompson by 17 points, with John McCain and Mitt Romney trailing behind.
Now, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is Republican from Tennessee, that's Thompson's home state, and of course, she supports Thompson. And we are so glad you could make some time to talk to us today.
REP. BLACKBURN: It's good to be with you, Kelly. Thank you.
MS. O'DONNELL: We've been hearing so much about the gauging of the Fred Thompson campaign. He was in late, he's got kind of a slow, easy style. He has been running second nationally in lots of polls, but this 17-point gap is pretty big. How does the Thompson campaign deal with that?
REP. BLACKBURN: You know, Kelly, I think he is right where he needs to be right now. And second place is a good place to be.
The poll that's going to count is when these caucuses begin and when we get past the first of the year. And he is positioned very, very well.
Fred Thompson is going about this the way that he generally does -- very thoughtfully, bringing forth his positions on issues, thinking out loud with the American people, letting them get to know him and get to know his style of solving problems, making decisions and taking action. And I think that's one of the things you're going to see a little bit more of.
Fred Thompson doesn't talk about wanting to be president, he talks about what he's going to to do. And as you were just hearing from your conversation with Chuck Todd, that's what the American people want to see -- who's going to take some action, who is going to confront these problems, who is going to bring forward solutions? That is what they're hungry for, that's the type of leadership they're for, and that's what Fred Thompson delivers.
MS. O'DONNELL: And Congresswoman, sometimes geography plays a big role in how candidates strategize, and of course, Thompson is a southerner. You can tell that when he talks, you can tell that in the things he talks about. Does he have a real southern strategy?
There have been critics who say he hasn't spent enough time in Iowa or New Hampshire, banking on South Carolina. Describe that for us. What is the southern strategy?
REP. BLACKBURN: You know, I think there is a southern strategy in place. And of course, there's been a lot written and a lot said about it, and we are going to see that crawl forward, where you do see emphasis on those southern states. And you will see Fred and Jeri Thompson out there more.
You're also going to see them -- he's filing his papers in New Hampshire, and there is going to be emphasis there. What we're talking about is American solutions for American problems.
And over the next few months, as people start to tune in and get down to making those decisions, there's going to be plenty of Fred Thompson information on every table across this country so that as men and women sit down to make those evaluations and decide who's going to take the steps to secure that border and end the problem of illegal immigration and find a solution, who is going to hit entitlements head on, who is going to make certain that we look at preserving access to health care for Americans, he is going to be the person for that job.
MS. O'DONNELL: Well, let's talk a little bit about those hurdles he's got to jump, as do the other candidates: Iowa, New Hampshire. He's been lagging behind there, and, you know, all politics is local, so folks in those states are a little uptight when a candidate isn't on the ground quite as much.
And Senator Thompson has been asked about that. Let's take a moment to listen to what he said in response to that criticism.
FRED THOMPSON (former senator, R-TN): (From videotape.) The election's not today. I mean, the real issue is what's the situation in on Election Day? By that time I will have been in New Hampshire a lot, I will have shown New Hampshire the same respect that I'm showing these other states. Every time you're somewhere, that means you're not somewhere else.
MS. O'DONNELL: That is classic "Thompson-ism" -- "every time you're somewhere that means you're not somewhere else." (Chuckles.)
REP. BLACKBURN: You're right, it is.
And I think, as we move forward and move through November and December, there's going to be more of a presence there from Fred and Jeri Thompson in Iowa, in New Hampshire --
MS. O'DONNELL: And don't you think that really acknowledges that he needs to be there?
REP. BLACKBURN: I think that everyone knows they need to be a little bit of everywhere. And right now, Kelly, I think there's also the awareness that there are other tools that we can use to help get that message out. And physical presence, you bet it is important, and that is going to continue to be there. There will be an increased use in surrogates and making certain that that message of what Fred Thompson will do, the actions he will take as president of the United States, that that is communicated. And --
MS. O'DONNELL: But Congresswoman --
REP. BLACKBURN: -- you know, all of us know -- all of us, as candidates and as members of Congress, know that individuals -- that we are seeking their vote -- they want to see us, they want to get up close to us, they want to have that --
MS. O'DONNELL: You've got to ask for the vote.
REP. BLACKBURN: That's right, and ask for that vote, one on one. And we know that there is -- that that has to be done.
MS. O'DONNELL: Well, we'll be following with you over these days and weeks to come. And we'll talk to you again, because watching how Thompson does, especially in these early states, will be a critical dynamic in the race. Thanks for making time for us.
REP. BLACKBURN: You're exactly right. Thank you so much.
MS. O'DONNELL: Thank you.