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Tommy Thompson Risks Serious Poundage In Iowa

When you're a third-tier candidate, sometimes you have to ditch the "practice what you preach" mantra, throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes in the face of hypocrisy to woo voters. For GOP presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson, that means eating his way through Iowa.

The former governor and former Health and Human Services secretary has a jam-packed, artery-clogging campaign schedule that would make any foodie freak out.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson

From glancing at his schedule, Thompson will be spending most of his days between now and the Aug. 11 Ames Straw Poll chowing down on hot dogs, brats, pie, donuts, pizza, ice cream, and much (munch) more.

On Friday, he kicks off his "Common Sense Solutions" tour through the state at the Prairie Moon winery in Ames. Then it's up-and-at-'em the next morning for coffee and rolls in two different cities, followed by a noontime pizza party in Pocahontas County, an ice cream social at 4 p.m. in Rockwell City, Lord knows what at 5 p.m. (the schedule just says "an afternoon with Tommy Thompson"), capped off by a cookout -- a "grillin' with the governor" party -- at 6 p.m.

And the next day, and next four days after that? More of his fattening faves (with very little free time to exercise).

Thompson's schedule for Saturday lists an ice cream social and a picnic. Then, over the next four days, he'll be doing coffee, breakfast, picnics, drinks, ice cream and pie, coffee and rolls, coffee and donuts, hot dogs and brats, lunch at Flapjacks Restaurant and even a house party at the home of Gary and Mary Leopold. (And the mouth just waters thinking of what great chow Gary and Mary will serve up!)

And that's just the public schedule.

Between events, Thompson's spokesman, Rennick Remley, tells us the ex-governor "loves the caramel frappuccinos from Starbucks" and vanilla ice cream cones at Dairy Queen.

"And he rather enjoys...pulled pork sandwiches," Remly added. "And raspberry pie is his favorite."

So how does Thompson go from railing against child obesity and advocating healthy eating as preventive health care to porking out on pizza, ice cream, donuts, Frapps and pie?

"Salads don't go over well with voters," Remly explained. "The [junk] food gets the voters out."

And what about poor Remly and the other campaign aides, are they ready to pack on the pounds to help Thompson stay viable in the presidential race? "We'll be packing our running run some of that off," he said.

Asked if Thompson would be joining them, Remly burst out laughing. "He'll be too busy shaking hands," came the excuse, muffled by more laughter.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 5, 2007; 4:34 PM ET
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