Fred Thompson has effectively admitted in an interview with Sean Hannity that he did lobby in behalf of a pro-abortion rights group.
Hannity served up a chest-high, 25 mph softball:
"They have attacked you, they have attacked your family, and now, they come out in the Los Angeles Times with a piece that says you lobbied for abortion rights. You say that's absolutely not true."
You can guess who "they" are.
The issue is crucial to Thompson's bid to win support from social conservatives whose ballots can determine the outcome of many presidential primaries. To achieve that goal, Thompson's anti-abortion credentials must remain untarnished.
The LAT tossed a little dirt on those credentials when it reported last week that officials of the pro-choice National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association said they hired Thompson in the early 1990s to lobby the George H. W. Bush administration to modify its anti-abortion policies.
All Thompson had to do was say to Hannity, "You're damned right." Instead, he answered as follows:
"You need to separate a lawyer who is advocating a position from the position itself." Hmm. Then: "They will probably come at me, in 35 years of law practice, with some people, I represented criminal defendants. I was a prosecutor. I had a general practice. So that in and of itself doesn't mean anything anyway."
If ever an answer demanded a follow-up, this fit the bill. As both former Watergate counsel Thompson and news crusader Hannity know, Thompson's "you need to separate a lawyer who is advocating a position from the position itself" indicates that something is going on that needs a little more exploration.
Hannity, however, must have missed that. Instead, before ending the interview, he allowed Thompson to declare; "I'm not going to get down in the weeds with everything they dredge up over the next six months. In terms of being a target, all I can say is, they know who to be afraid of."
Perhaps, if tougher questioners begin to dog Thompson, the mysterious "they" will learn who "they" do not need to be afraid of.
In the July 7 LAT story, Thompson spokesman Mark Corallo firmly rejected charges that Thompson had lobbied in support of the pro-choice group. "Fred Thompson did not lobby for this group, period," he said
In response to a Huffington Post inquiry today [[July 11]] however, Corallo was more equivocal: "He said he has no recollection of doing any work and does not recall lobbying anyone on it."
Listen to the interview below: