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MSNBC "Super Tuesday" - Transcript


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MS. BREWER: It is his first debate in more than a decade, so everyone will be watching Fred Thompson tonight. Not only will he have to be prepared to fend off any attacks from his rivals; the former Tennessee senator will also have to dispel some notions that he's not up to the job.

Check out this "Saturday Night Live" skit poking fun at his lack of ambition.

DARRELL HAMMOND ("Saturday Night Live" cast member): (From videotape.) How badly do I want to be your president? On a scale of one to 10, I'm about a six. (Laughter.)

Look, I'll be honest. Running for president is a lot of work. I may not be up for it. (Laughter.)

Also, I don't particularly like talking to people. (Laughter.)

MS. BREWER: Representative Marsha Blackburn is a Republican from Tennessee and a Fred Thompson supporter. Representative Blackburn, great to see you today.

REP. BLACKBURN: Good to see you.

MS. BREWER: Okay. At least the skit made you laugh, right?

REP. BLACKBURN: Oh, absolutely. You know, the interesting thing about that is this. I have never heard Fred Thompson say, "I want to be president." What he talks about is what he wants to do when he is president. And that is his focus. So the question should be, what are you going to do when you're president? And then Fred Thompson would talk to you about freedom, free enterprise. He would talk to you about making certain that we enforce that border, secure our border. And he'll talk to you about the future.

So you know, like everything else, Contessa, it's a matter of how you ask the question.

MS. BREWER: Do you see that as a problem with other candidates, that potentially they want the office, and it's not necessarily about what you can accomplish by being in the office?

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, I think it's just a difference in a world view. You know, those of us that know Fred Thompson and know him fairly well know that he kind of talks -- he'll think out loud. He'll kind of start off in slow gear and then he goes into second, and then he goes into third. And then once he hits that momentum streak, nobody's going to be able to catch him.

He is a good, solid conservative, and what he's going to do is talk about action. He's not going to talk about being, but he's going to talk about what he would do for the people of this country.

MS. BREWER: It's very interesting, because there was a lot of excitement surrounding his entry into the presidential race.


MS. BREWER: But in today's Politico, Roger Simon writes, "All he has to do is not to throw up. All he has to do is not to drool."


MS. BREWER: Has there ever been a major presidential candidate with lower expectations than Fred Thompson? Does Fred Thompson feel as though it will be easy for him to succeed up on the debate stage?

REP. BLACKBURN: I think that what you're going to see from Fred Thompson -- and I don't know how he personally feels as he's hitting that stage tonight -- but what you're going to see from him is someone who is very thoughtful, who is going to be very straightforward and is going to continue to have a dialogue.

It's so interesting to listen to all the hype. It's as if they expect people to hit the stage running for president, and it's show time. And that's not Fred Thompson. That would not be the way he would do it. He is very thoughtful, very low-key. He is very much a man of purpose, if you will.

MS. BREWER: Okay, let me ask you about this.


MS. BREWER: On the campaign trail, he's actually made some factual errors.


MS. BREWER: He called Russia the Soviet Union last week on an Iowa radio show. He's even had to ask his audience for applause. I want to just play this. (Plays audio.) Can those kind of blunders truly affect his credibility?

REP. BLACKBURN: You know, I think it humanizes him. We've all been in those instances where we felt as if there was an awkward moment. And so many times just that self-deprecating humor goes a long, long way. It's one that makes him Genuine Fred.

MS. BREWER: Representative Blackburn, it's a pleasure talking to you. Thank you.

REP. BLACKBURN: It's good talking to you, Contessa. Thank you.

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