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USA Today - Tommy Thompson to Run for President in 2008

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Location: Washington, DC

USA Today - Tommy Thompson to Run for President in 2008

By Jill Lawrence

Tommy Thompson formally entered the presidential race Sunday with an assertion that he fills two voids in the Republican field: He is "the reliable conservative" and he has creative ideas.

"All that people have to do is look at my record, and I am the one individual that they can count on," the former member of President Bush's Cabinet and four-term Wisconsin governor said on ABC's This Week.

"People feel Republicans lost their way in Washington," particularly by spending too much money, Thompson said. He added that Republicans are not coming up with "original new ideas."

Asked how he would differ from Bush, Thompson outlined a three-part Iraq plan. The first part would be a vote on continued U.S. presence by Iraqi legislators, and withdrawal if they vote against it. Iraq's 18 provinces would elect local leaders, and oil revenues would be divided as they are in Alaska — one-third given to the federal government, one-third given to the territorial governments and one-third passed directly to citizens.

Thompson said he agreed with Bush's planned veto of House and Senate war-funding bills that set guidelines and deadlines for withdrawing troops. He said the bills amount to telling U.S. enemies that "we are not there for the long haul."

In February, Thompson criticized the conduct of the Iraq war, saying that the military did not go in with enough forces to win and that the Iraqi army should have been preserved and used to guard the country's borders. He laid the responsibility mostly at the feet of his old boss. "The president is the ultimate determiner," he said at a USA TODAY forum.

Thompson also criticized Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' handling of the recent firings of eight U.S. attorneys. "Everybody knows he made terrible mistakes," he said. Whether Gonzales should resign is "up to the president," he said.

Thompson, 65, was secretary of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2005. Before joining the Bush administration, he was the nation's longest-serving governor.

His signature achievement from 14 years in office was the overhaul of Wisconsin's welfare system, seen as a national model for moving low-income women into the workforce.

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