Thompson stresses global outreach
Tommy Thompson
Republican presidential contender and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson greets Dick Ingram, president of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, during a campaign appearance in Portsmouth Wednesday.
Michael McCord photo / SMG

PORTSMOUTH — Common sense was the pragmatic theme shared with local voters by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson during a campaign stop Wednesday at Pease International Tradeport.

Speaking a day after participating in a Republican primary debate in Manchester, Thompson touted his extensive experience as a chief executive and as secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bush to about 30 people at Pierce Atwood law firm.

"I'm good with ideas," said Thompson, who was elected to four terms as governor. He told the audience he was the only Republican who had solid "common sense" plans to deal with major issues such as the war in Iraq, health care reform and restoring American stature around the globe.

Thompson, who was making his fifth visit to the state since April but has yet to establish a major campaign office or presence, said it is important for the Iraqi government to secure a parliamentary vote on whether American troops should remain in a country riven by almost 1,400 years of sectarian strife.

"If it's yes, it gives us legitimacy," Thompson said about such a vote. He also called for the Iraqi government to share the country's oil wealth with regional governments and with direct payments to the Iraqi people to give them a stake in the future.

According to the Thompson, "they are great entrepreneurs" who can build a strong economy and country. On the health care front, Thompson warned that the American economy was in danger because of the health care system.

But, he offered, "it's not that difficult to fix" and offered proposals focused on preventive medicine, dealing with chronic illnesses in a smarter way, and the potential large savings of incorporating information technology into everyday medical use.

He said American global stature, which has been eroded by the worldwide unpopularity of the Iraq war and the Bush administration's unilateral approach to fighting global terrorism, could be restored by major humanitarian efforts in medicine and technology to enrich the world. He talked about his experiences with the nonprofit Global Fund, which has raised $8 billion and oversees more than 300 programs in 125 countries.

"The president must be able to set the moral tone of the country," Thompson said in response to a question from Keith Eustis, the president of a professional staffing firm, about restoring national unity and inspiring American youth. But Thompson did not repeat his proposal in Tuesday night's debate to enlist Bush to speak to American youth about moral duties and the example of perseverance.

In response to another question, Thompson reiterated his opposition to the current immigration bill, which he said "was tearing the country apart." But he did offer solutions beyond controlling the borders and a tamper-proof I.D. card.

While asking for their support, Thompson said he was focusing most of his summer campaign effort in Iowa, which will hold a major but non-binding straw poll in August. He said he would camp out in New Hampshire in September and October.