By ANDY BARR10/27/09 8:29 PM EDT | Politico
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson brushed back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday over Gingrich’s warning that the Republican Party is wrong to thrown in its lot with the Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman over Dede Scozzafava, the GOP’s candidate, in the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district.
Gingrich has called the many prominent national Republicans – including Thompson – who have endorsed Hoffman over Scozzafava in recent days “misguided,” arguing they are making a “mistake” to back a third-party candidate over the party’s nominee.
The conservatives who back Hoffman point to Scozzafava’s support for abortion right and ties to local union leaders.
During his radio show Tuesday, Thompson said he was “sad” to hear “when a good Republican friend of mine says that I, and the other good, conservative Republicans who have endorsed Hoffman, are ‘misguided.’ And that’d be my friend, Newt Gingrich.”
“I respect Newt. He’s a friend. Done a lot of good, I think. But he endorsed Scozzafava early on. So, we have an honest disagreement in the family,” Thompson said.
But, he added, “Newt said that our support for Hoffman was a ‘purge,’ was ‘misguided,’ was—we were applying a litmus test that said if you’re not 100 percent with us than you're not with us at all. And that Scozzafava was more in step with her district and therefore we shouldn't substitute our judgment for the party elders of the district.”
Thompson, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, then asked of Gingrich: “Who’s applying the litmus test here?”
“Are we saying that as Americans you’ve got to have an ‘R’ by your name before you vote for them? Where do you draw the line?” he continued. “If somebody with a record like this gets our seal of approval, regardless, only because she’s got an ‘R’ by the name… You know, just because we’re Republicans doesn’t mean that we’re deaf, dumb, and blind.”