From the Associated Press:
LADSON, S.C. (AP) — White House hopeful Fred Thompson called his trip down aisle of rifles, shotguns and pistols at a gun show “a day in paradise,” and said he wished he could come back to spend more time and money.
It was the former Tennessee senator and “Law and Order” actor’s second trip to a gun show since launching his late bid for the GOP nomination in September.
He reached out and picked up an old M-1 Garand rifle and raised an over-and-under Winchester shotgun suitable for the skeet shooting he’s been known to do as he made his way through the 200 vendors at The Land of the Sky Gun Show at a fairgrounds just outside of North Charleston, S.C.
“It’s a beautiful day in paradise,” Thompson said when greeted by one of the people packing the show’s aisles.
“Giuliani scares me,” Mr. McCormick said of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. “What does a mayor of New York know about guns?”
Mr. Thompson has been assiduously courting voters like Mr. McCormick, in stops in New Hampshire on Friday and South Carolina on Saturday, but also in Florida just as he was beginning his quest for the White House.
As Mr. Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, struggles to make up for what even his supporters call a lackluster campaign, gun owners passionate about the right to bear arms is one group Mr. Thompson is counting on to bolster his efforts.
While many of those interviewed here had not made up their minds, and could say little about where Mr. Thompson stood on issues beyond gun rights, there was a reservoir of good will for the fellow Southerner.
Mr. Thompson is increasingly highlighting the fact that two main rivals, Mr. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, hail from the Northeast.
After the gun show, Mr. Thompson, jokingly referred to one reporter as a “Yankee” before challenging Mr. Giuliani on what he said was a recent conversion to supporting gun owners’ rights. “He never met a gun-control bill he didn’t like until he started to run for president,” Mr. Thompson said.
The Thompson campaign has always viewed South Carolina as a must-win state. While Mr. Thompson still does well in the polls here, he has plummeted in the ones in New Hampshire — now ranking behind Representative Ron Paul of Texas — and is lagging in Iowa, well behind Mr. Romney and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas.