COLUMBIA — If voters send Fred Thompson to the White House, they'll be playing a lot more Johnny Cash in Washington come 2009.

That's just one thing that would change, the towering politician/actor told a crowd of roughly 400 outside Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet on Monday on one of his first official presidential campaign stops.

Thompson, dressed in a blue polo shirt and tan slacks, looked a little thinner than his character, District Attorney Arthur Branch, on NBC's "Law & Order."

That's thanks to his wife, Jeri, he said, patting his belly.

"It's good to be in a place where I know that when I talk people can understand what I am saying," Thompson said.

Thompson, who also made a stop Monday in Greenville, started out by talking about his background and Republican values. The former U.S. senator from Tennessee also worked as a lobbyist, actor, prosecutor and lawyer, including his service as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee.

Without delving into policy, Thompson laid out in sound bites what he thinks: he's pro-life, supports the Second Amendment, has faith in God and wants low taxes.

"There are some things in this changing world that don't change," he said. "Certain things such as human nature and the wisdom of the ages have led us to the Declaration of Independence and led us to the Constitution of the United States, and they are not outdated documents to be cast aside."

He also mentioned briefly his stance on Iraq, saying national security must be the president's first priority; skimmed the surface of the immigration issue, saying Americans have the right to decide who comes into the country and stays; and touched on spending, saying Washington politicians are spending the birthright of future generations.

At least 30 supporters traveled to the event from the Charleston area, including Charleston County Register Mesne Conveyance Charlie Lybrand of Hollywood, who summed up why supporters proudly call themselves Fred Heads.

"He's real," Lybrand said of Thompson. "He doesn't use so much political-speak, so much spin. When you ask him a question, he gives you an answer.

"Plus, he's already played a president."

Thompson most recently played the role of President Ulysses S. Grant in HBO's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

Thompson's campaign also announced Monday the names of three key supporters in South Carolina, including Dean Rice, who will manage the state campaign; Lance Williams, who will be its operations director; and Walter Whetsell, who will work as an in-state consultant.

Reach Yvonne M. Wenger at or 803-799-9051.