"I am not consumed by personal ambition," Thompson said Saturday. "I will not be devastated if I don't do it. I'm not particularly interested in running for president but I think I would make a good president." He said others encouraged him to run and he decided it was the right thing to do.
[In an appearance Sunday on CNN, Thompson complained that the "not particularly interested" quote had been taken out of context.]
"I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them," Thompson said at a town hall meeting in Burlington, Iowa.
Thompson said some candidates have become too absorbed by the process and have lost sight of the ultimate need to serve the country.
"Nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly," he said. "I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing that a president has too much fire in his belly."
Burlington attorney Todd Chelf, whose question elicited Thompson's response, said he appreciated the reply. "It's almost refreshing to see that kind of response as opposed to what we get normally," he said. "I think there's a passion there. I think that it's an old-fashioned passion."
At his stop in the community of Washington, Thompson joked about Democrat John Edwards, who had an event at the same time just a few blocks away.
"I understand my friend John Edwards is in town. He's over at the library. I hope he learns something while he's over there," Thompson said. "I like our bus better. Go out and check them out."