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Muscatine Journal - Neighbor to the North Drops By: Former Wisconsin Governor, Possible Presidential Candidate, Visits Muscatine

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Location: Muscatine, IA

Muscatine Journal - Neighbor to the North Drops By: Former Wisconsin Governor, Possible Presidential Candidate, Visits Muscatine

By Pam Martz Muscatine Journal Correspondent

Alternative fuels, health-care reform and the war in Iraq were among the hot topics discussed by possible Republican presidential candidate of Wisconsin.

Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and former secretary of the federal Health and Human Services Depart-ment, visited with approximately 25 potential supporters at the home of Muscatine County Treasurer Jerry Coffman on Saturday afternoon. The event was hosted by Bob Kaufmann, 21-year-old chair of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans. He's the son of Iowa legislator Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton.

During Thompson's introduction, Bob Kaufmann said he chooses to support a candidate with integrity and the ability to win as a Republican and he referred to Thompson as a "proven winner."

Thompson addressed several issues in response to questions:


Thompson, 65, says the United States needs to reduce dependency on foreign oil and pointed out that he was the first governor to purchase an E-85 vehicle. In 1991, he helped found the Governors' Ethanol Council. "If you don't believe in ethanol, you shouldn't support me," Thompson said.

Heath-care reform

Thompson said that 16 percent of the gross national product is spent on health care, greatly reducing competition in the world market for U.S. products. "We now spend seven percent on well (preventive) care and 93 percent on illness. How dumb is that? I'd like to see our health-care system change from curative to wellness-focused," Thompson said.

Illegal immigration

"It's simple. You obey the law or you suffer the consequences and are returned to the country from which you came," Thompson said. He also said that he's not in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants but says there is a place for worker permits obtained through legal channels.

War in Iraq

Thompson told his Muscatine audience that he's not ready to pull out of Iraq, but he's nervous that President Bush's decision to dramatically increase the number of troops in Iraq could threaten national security if another war should arise.

"I have a similar philosophy as Colin Powell. You go to war to win. You need to put in enough troops to do it. When we started, we tried to do it on the cheap. We will have 17,000 (more) young men and women in Baghdad (alone). I would much rather train the Iraqis. I hope this works out," Thompson said.

He added that the military and military equipment needs to be strengthened but he wouldn't be in favor of a draft. "I hope we can make the military so exciting that we won't need a draft."

A GOP president?

"Republicans went to Washington hoping to change Washington; instead, Washington changed Republicans," he said.

"A Republican can't win without the Midwestern states of Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin," Thompson added. He joked that it would be good if the Iowans and Wisconsinites could reunite by considering him "if and when I make that announcement."

Thompson, who has considered a bid for the 2008 presidential race since late 2005, filed papers in December 2006 to form an exploratory committee to determine if he will announce his candidacy.

Saturday, he told his local audience that he wasn't ready to make such an announcement.

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