Thompson says he's the only candidate discussing how to rebuild Iraq
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Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson starts his New Hampshire campaign for president at a house party in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, April 4, 2007.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson came to New Hampshire on Wednesday, saying he is the only presidential candidate on either side of the political aisle discussing how to build war-ravaged Iraq.

The former U.S. health and humans services secretary also spoke about his plan for Americas health-care system and education vouchers during a talk in the home of John Stephen, commissioner of state Health and Human Services Department. A small group of conservative supporters and others gathered in the living room to hear Thompson.

Thompson, 65, said is the only candidate talking about a plan for helping Iraq and defending Americans who are in the country.

"Thats what we do in America, if we have somebody in harms way, we defend them," Thompson said. "But beyond that, nobodys talking about how to build Iraq."

Thompson said he would draw upon the principles of democracy and put the matter of whether America should continue its presence in the country to a vote by Iraqi leaders.

"If they do that and they vote yes, it immediately gives a legitimacy for our country to be there," Thompson said. "And if they vote no we should get out. They are duly elected _ we put the onus on the government."

Using the model of Americas 50 states, Thompson next said he would divide Iraq into 18 territories. He said the territorial system that had been set up by the United Kingdom in Iraq after World War I.

"New Hampshire elects their own government, I would have the 18 territories elect their own government," he said.

He said this system would ensure the three primary religious groups _ the Kurds, Shiites and Sunni _ would go to territories they dominate politically, creating a realignment of the people.

"People that are of Shiite religion would go to that territory because they believe in that theocracy, and the same thing for the Sunnis and the same thing for the Kurds," he said. "It would get away from the internecine civil war, where the Shiites and Sunnis hate each other going back 1,400 years."

Thompson said the next part of his plan would focus on the countrys oil reserves. He noted that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world.

Thompson said he would also divide the countrys oil revenues equally, giving one-third to the federal government, one third to state territorial governments and one-third to every Iraqi. This would prompt Iraqis to monitor the actions of their government leaders to ensure they are honest. It would also cause the three groups to work together to protect oil wells

Later in his talk, Thompson said he wanted Republicans to start talking about ideas.

"We as Republicans went to Washington to change Washington; Washington changed us, and we started being the party with no new ideas," he said. "Then we became the party that tried to spend money as fast as the Democrats."

After losing the mid-term elections, Thompson said republicans have to re-earn the trust of American voters.




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