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WAPELLO, Iowa — Former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson was introduced Tuesday to Wapello area voters as the winner of the recent Linn County Straw Poll held at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

“We are very excited that Gov. Thompson won the Linn County straw poll,” said Chris Coffman, a Thompson field representative for the candidate’s Iowa campaign. “Linn County is Iowa’s second largest county and his victory reflects the strong grassroots campaign that Gov. Thompson is building in Iowa.”

All Republican presidential candidates were included in the straw poll.

Thompson has been in Iowa every week since the beginning of 2007 and plans to visit weekly through the Aug. 11 Straw Poll in Ames. He knows he must win Iowa’s votes to continue in his quest for the Republican nod across the country.

“I have to carry Iowa to continue. I believe I’m picking up a lot of steam,” Thompson said. “Other candidates are not offering solutions. I’m the only candidate laying out ways to solve our country’s problems.”

Thompson shared his life experience with a dozen people Tuesday afternoon at the Wapello Farm Bureau office.

He grew up on a farm near Elroy, Wis., and helped his father run a gas station and country grocery store. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then became a state legislator at age 24. He later served four terms as governor, from 1987-2001, and four years as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 2001-05, under President George W. Bush.

He touched on several topics.


“Nobody has ever asked the Iraqi government if they want us in their country,” Thompson said. “We need to force that vote and if they vote ‘yes,’ our stay is legitimate. If they vote no, then we begin bringing our troops out of Iraq.

There are 18 territories in Iraq. We should require them to establish 18 governments where each major ethnic group can elect its own people. This would get rid of the civil wars that currently divide Iraq.

They must share their oil profits with every person in Iraq. They should give one-third to the federal government, one-third to the (territorial) governments and one-third to the people. This would give them a stake in their government and the future of their oil industry and their country. They would start building houses and businesses and schools.

I am the only one who has laid out a plan for Iraq.”

Health care

“We must make health care affordable and accessible for all. We need to build a system centered on preventive medicine. Less than 10 percent of health care costs are spent to keep you well.

In this country, we wait until people get sick and then spend billions of dollars to try to make them well again. Why not invest up front in keeping our families healthy in the first place?

We must use information technology to cut costs, reduce medical errors and create a more efficient health care system.

We must use the private sector and public sector to provide health insurance for all. It is a basic common sense approach to keeping people healthy and reining in health care costs.”

Illegal immigrants

Thompson said offering amnesty is the wrong way to deal with illegal immigrants.

He said America must protect its borders, require tamper-proof passports and require those passports for employment. Thompson also said immigrants should be required to speak the language and become familiar with local customs. Under his proposals, the punishment for committing a crime would be deportation.


There were only a few questions from the audience.

Tom Poggemiller of Wapello noted that a lot of fathers are being killed in Iraq and others are homeless. He wanted to know how the country should address these situations. Thompson said it is the country’s obligation to protect the military men from harm, and if they die, it is a “moral responsibility to be sure their families are taken care of.“

Eleanor Jones of Wapello said she is concerned about the cost of a college education that is leaving many young people with huge debts.

Thompson said getting the deficit under control would make it possible to rebuild the military, improve scholarship programs and improve medical research.

Chris Hinkle of Wapello asked how to balance civil liberties and the need for protecting the nation.

Thompson’s response was four-fold: “We must protect the constitution. We must be a country of laws. We must be able to protect life, liberty and property. We must never step across moral and ethical lines.“

Contact Connie Street at: 319-527-8164 or

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