National security will be the biggest issue facing the United States during the next president's term, said Republican Fred Thompson, who is campaigning to be the one in the White House then.
Thompson said the Soviet Union used to be the biggest threat to America. Now, it's al-Qaida and other groups, including "rogue nations in various stages of nuclear capability," he said.
"Iraq and Afghanistan are the current front in a much bigger global conflict that we're engaged in," Thompson said during a news conference before a $100-per-plate Mississippi Republican party fundraising dinner.
An actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee who served on the Intelligence Committee, Thompson said dealing with national security will require a commitment and a constant dialogue between the president and the American people.
Rep. Roger Wicker, who will help lead Thompson's presidential effort in the state, said the next president will be one of the most important in the country's history because of the potential to nominate two Supreme Court justices.
To that end, Thompson told the dinner audience of about 400: "We need to have judges that will follow the law of the Constitution and not make it up as they go along."
Earlier Monday, Thompson appeared in Kenner, La., where he defended his record on abortion.
Asked about criticism from Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who also is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Thompson said he has always been 100 percent supportive of the anti-abortion movement. Huckabee said in a television interview on Sunday that he was taken aback by the National Right to Life Committee's endorsement of Thompson.