Bob Owens: We just caught part of your speech. You mentioned will, several times, in relation to the American people, which is something we have not fully engaged in. What can we do to recapture the will of the American people?
Fred Thompson: Yeah. I was referring to a passage in Andrew Roberts book, A History of the English Speaking Peoples since the 1900’s, and he points out that the will of a people is at least as important as its military might in prevailing in a conflict. I really believe that that’s true. Ya gotta understand you’re gonna have some bad times. You’re gonna have some difficulties. You’re gonna have to understand the need for doing what you’re doing and the need for perseverance. That’s one of the most important jobs I think nowadays of a President of the United States, of having communication with the American people and explaining those things. Here’s what we’re doing and here’s why we’re doing it.
Roger L. Simon: A lot of us have felt that the Bush administration has failed in that regard. Public relations has been one of their weak spots. How is a Thompson administration going to recapture that, recapture the will of the people?
FT: You gotta be honest with people and bring them along for the ride. You can’t just say everything is fine, don’t pay much attention to it and go on about your business on a daily basis and then be able to sustain yourself in the bad times. You gotta be honest up front. What we’re gonna have to do is face up to the need to make a substantial committment, fiscally, in this country. Arrange some of our priorities, and understand that we’re gonna have to rebuild our military, we’re gonna have to modernize our military, we’re gonna have to replace our equipment, and do all those things necessary for the long haul. You can’t do it on the cheap. You can’t do guns and butter. In past conflicts when our nation has faced difficulties non-defense spending has gone down substantially. Not this time. We’re still operating under the assumption that the conflict all has to do with Iraq and Afghanistan and once that’s over it’ll all be over, which I think a lot of people still think. And secondly, we’re not gonna have to make additional financial committements to it. Both of those things are erroneous. And a President has to communicate the truth to the American people. On the front end. Because you can’t expect, if you don’t have the American people on the front end of this you’re not gonna have them on the back end.
The American voter has to be persuaded that the course of action is the correct one and that the benefits are worth the cost. Meanwhile, the “Loyal Opposition” and its media organs stop at nothing to persuade the voter otherwise. The last actor we elected President had similar problems, and overcame them through bypassing the opposition’s media organs. Can a President Thompson do for new media what President Reagan did for talk radio? Only if he gets elected. And if he does, it might just be because he made better use of new media than his rivals.