In seven years, health care will, he says, devour $4 trillion annually, which will be 21 percent of GDP. It is, he argues, irrational to spend just 7 percent on prevention of sickness and 93 percent on treatment of sickness. Seventy-five percent of health spending goes to treat the 125 million Americans who have one or more chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, which is related to the epidemic of obesity. In five years, or sooner, such diabetes may involve 62 million Americans and cost $400 billion. Sixty percent of these cases could, he says, be prevented by walking 30 minutes a day and losing 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight.
He has not yet lost much weight raising money, but expects to have the $2.5 million he thinks will enable him to win Iowa. It, he thinks, will be a slingshot that hurls him toward Feb. 5, when perhaps 21 states will vote. Win Iowa, he says, and New Hampshire becomes winnable. Then, propelled by free media attention, on Feb. 5 he can be leading the few surviving candidates. He says he would bet $100 to $5 that his better-financed Republican rivals would swap their money for his organization in Iowa, where he has visited 33 of 99 counties and will concentrate most of his energies, leaving the remainder for New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Iowa, however, is often an insufficient slingshot. Among the winners of Iowa who failed to win New Hampshire are George H.W. Bush (1980), Walter Mondale (1984), Dick Gephardt (1988), George W. Bush (2000).
Still, Thompson is confident the Republican nominee will become president. The Clintons' machine, he says, will whittle Barack Obama down to size, deflect John Edwards and secure Hillary Clinton's nomination, and she, he insists, is unelectable. He says he already has 1,800 Iowa supporters promising to bring five friends each to the straw poll in Ames on Aug. 11, so he is confident he will easily top the 7,418 votes George W. Bush won there in 1999.
Then there is the Sturgis Factor. Thompson, who rides a Milwaukee-made Harley, is a member of the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, S.D. (population 6,260). Every August about half a million motorcyclists gather there to enjoy the pleasure of one another's company. This year's gathering (Aug. 6-12) coincides with Iowa's straw poll. It would be a mere 660-mile ride for some Iowa bikers to get from Sturgis to Ames.