"But doggone, they brought me in a fruit plate," Mr. Thompson said to laughs at Tommy's Country Ham House.
The former Tennessee senator has said his wife, Jeri, and others have encouraged him to watch his cholesterol and weight, and to exercise more. He has said his visible weight loss is not health-related, and he's following a new eating plan at home: "If it tastes good, don't eat it."
Apparently the new diet extends to the campaign trail. Mr. Thompson said he would take that up with his staff.
Gazing across plates with the remnants of grits, sausage, bacon, biscuits and pancakes, Mr. Thompson said in his trademark drawl, "mighty good to be back in God's country."
"Folks knows what goes into a good breakfast," he said.
During the stop, he also singled out rival Rudy Giuliani's support for sanctuary cities and the former New York mayor's fight against legislation he backed in the Senate.
"While I was voting and working for the passage of a bill that outlawed sanctuary cities, Mayor Giuliani was going to court to overturn the bill that we had just passed," Mr. Thompson said as he wrapped up a two-day swing through early-voting South Carolina.
It was the second day Mr. Thompson has denounced leading Republicans on illegal immigration. He repeated a claim that all of his opponents had supported a failed overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in the Senate this summer. Sen. John McCain of Arizona was the legislation's chief supporter.
"The fact of the matter is, among the top-tier candidates so far in this Republican primary, they all supported that bill -- before they knew it was going to be such an important issue with people, I suppose," he said.