DUBUQUE, IOWA -- As is his style, Thompson kicked off his bus tour of Iowa in a low-key fashion tonight at a hotel ballroom in Dubuque, Iowa. But he still managed to take a shot at rival Mitt Romney – and the rest of the Republican field – over getting the endorsement of Steve King, the influential Iowa congressman.
"I understand that today when he made his announcement, there were some people from another campaign waiting for their guy to be named," Thompson said, referring to the Romney campaign. "He wasn't. They were kind of shocked that I got the endorsement and he didn't. But I won't rub it in. I'll just say this: this ain't the last surprise you're going to get, folks."
About 75 supporters were on hand to see a leaner, more applause-line heavy stump speech. He made certain to mention last week's Republican debate, when he refused to raise his hand about a question on global warming.
"How are you going to stand up to the leaders of Iran and North Korea if you can't stand up to an overbearing moderator?"
Gone are the references to federalism and a discourse about growing up in Tennessee, in are more references to national security and shots at the Democrats.
"Our fundamental principles are under assault from a left-wing, big government, high taxing, weak on national security Democratic Party," he said to sustained applause.
"We're not going to turn the keys to this country over to that outfit. Not as long as we have anything to say about it."