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Tennessee Democrats slow to embrace Barack Obama

Tennessee Democrats slow to embrace Barack Obama

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 7:17 am
By: AP

NASHVILLE (AP) — Mem-bers of Tennessee’s delegation to the Democratic convention in Denver say they will throw their support behind Barack Obama — but not right away. One Tennessee superdelegate, Elisa Parker, said she and several other members of the delegation would continue to stick with Hillary Clinton, who easily carried the Volunteer State’s primary in February, “for posterity’s sake, if nothing else” during the convention. “As a woman and a Democrat, she deserves that show of support,” she said. But that support would last only until Obama is officially nominated, she said. “The most important thing to remember is that when we all get home, we’re solidly Obama supporters,” Parker said. Later Wednesday, delegates made Obama’s nomination unanimous after Clinton asked midway through the roll call that he be approved by acclamation. The delegation is led by Gov. Phil Bredesen, who has campaigned in support of Obama but has expressed skepticism about whether he will be competitive in Tennessee this fall. But U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., noted that presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain didn’t win his party’s primary in Tennessee, either, and that his hold on the state’s electoral votes might not be as solid as some predict. Cooper said Democrats must work to overcome “a certain residual unthinking Republicanism in Tennessee,” by emphasizing McCain’s ties to Bush administration policies and by reintroducing Obama to voters. “Barack Obama is a living embodiment of the American Dream,” Cooper said. “We’ll do much better than anybody expects in Tennessee.” Other Democrats in Tennessee’s congressional delegation were not so quick to throw their weight behind Obama. Rep. John Tanner, who had endorsed Clinton, said Clinton was clear during her convention speech that Democrats should support Obama. “Some of them will I’m sure will respect her wishes in that regard, and some of them will have to think about it for a while,” Tanner said. As for his own role during the campaign? “I’ve always considered my role in the legislative branch to be separate,” he said. Rep. Lincoln Davis is taking a similar approach. “He is not taking an active role in presidential politics,” said spokesman Tom Hayden. “He’s focused on the 4th Congressional District.” State Rep. Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, said she believes the addition of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as the Democratic running mate “will cause Tennesseans who were reluctant to jump on board” to support Obama. But DeBerry, a superdelegate who endorsed Obama during the primaries, acknowledged there remain “some die-hard Clinton supporters” in the delegation. ——— Associated Press Writer Lucas L. Johnson II contributed to this report. Published in The Messenger 8.28.08

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