Thompson: Work Came Before China Panel
By John Solomon
Part of GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson's pitch has been his record of government experience, which includes chairing Senate hearings in the 1990s into whether agents of China sought to influence U.S. elections. His interest in national security issues involving China landed him a spot in 2005 on the congressionally-created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which studies China's relationship with the United States. It turns out Thompson showed up for just six of the 19 hearings the commission held during his two-year term.
Questioned by Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace about his attendance record, Thompson said he was too busy acting on NBC's "Law and Order" television show and hosting a nationally-syndicated radio show to attend all of the commission's events.
"This was a voluntary commission to serve on. They were primarily interested in my ideas more than me sitting through hearings that might be domestic or foreign. My emphasis, my concern, was the Chinese military build-up," Thompson explained. "Some of these economic-related issues I was not as concerned with. And I was working two full-time jobs. This was a non-paying position, a voluntary position, and I was working a couple of other jobs to earn my livelihood."
His service on the commission wasn't the only question Thompson fielded Sunday about his commitment. Thompson, whose White House bid has been noted for its late start and the candidate's own low-key style of campaigning, was questioned about comments he made earlier in the weekend in Iowa that "I'm not particularly interested in running for president."
Thompson said he was encouraged to run by others and agreed it was the right thing to do. "I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them," Thompson told a town hall meeting in Burlington, Iowa. "The welfare of my country and my kids and grandkids are one of them."
On Sunday, Thompson said those comments were "just another case of me being just as open and candid as I can possibly be when average citizens ask me questions in a public forum."
"I've said that I don't like every aspect of the way that people have to campaign nowadays in terms of process taking precedence over substance. But I'm in the middle of a 50-town tour in the state of Iowa, working day and night. I think that pretty much speaks for itself," Thompson told Wallace in an effort to reassure voters of his commitment.
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