McWherter shares thoughts on issues
Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010 8:56 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
Former Tennessee Gov. Ned Ray McWherter offered a solution to stop the illegal aliens streaming across the U.S. border with Mexico: Use the National Guard.
“I’d put some troops down there, and I’d stop this immigration problem we’re having,” he said.
McWherter, 79, is a veteran of 30 years in state government, including 14 years as speaker of the Tennessee House and two terms (1987-1995) as governor.
The Palmersville native lives in Dresden and is semi-retired.
McWherter commented on the illegal alien problem and other issues during a recent interview with The Messenger.
“I’d stop this walking across the line,” he said of illegals. “They’re going to keep doing that as long as we don’t close the borders. We’ve got enough National Guard troops that train two weeks each year. We could put National Guard troops from all the states down there for their training for a year or two, and it wouldn’t cost a lot of money. It needs to be stopped, and it can be.
“We could close that border down, and if people wanted to come into our country, they could come like our ancestors did — do it the right way and become citizens.”
He said the illegal aliens say they come in because they are the only ones that will work.
“Well, if people can make a livable wage, they’ll work,” he said. “They always have. When I started out, out of school, I worked at the shoe factory. My mother worked at the shirt factory. Everybody worked.
“Our economy will build back and sustain itself if we give the people the opportunity to have jobs.”
Other issues discussed included:
• The Obama administration.
“Obama is borrowing too much money, in my judgment, putting a lot of it out here, and I don’t know how effective it’s going to be. Tennessee has never been very supportive of him. I was for Hillary (Clinton in her presidential campaign). She defeated him pretty well in Tennessee.
“It seems like they (Obama administration) are prone to want to give money away. In my judgment, they’re still not popular in Tennessee.”
He said Obama administration’s practices had an influence in Democratic Congressman John Tanner’s decision to retire at the end of his current term.
“I think John just got worn out with them borrowing money. I think that’s one of the reasons (he’s retiring). When I talked to him, I was kind of shocked that he decided to leave this year, but he just said, ‘The leadership up there pushes some legislation that I don’t agree with.’
“We have a good congressman. He just doesn’t believe in borrowing all this money. Look at how much we owe the Red Chinese. In my judgment, that’s dangerous.”
The United States reportedly owes China $91 billion. The total national debt is listed as $12,933,965,635,673 or almost $13 trillion.
• The economy.
“I am a person who believes this economy, our country (with its) so-called capitalistic economy, is strong enough, that when you give it time, it will correct itself. What has happened, in my judgment, we don’t have any more middle income jobs. It’s either privileged or low. High income and low income.
“I can remember when Union City had a thriving shoe manufacturing business. I can remember when it had a thriving Salant & Salant. Those people who went to work there, when they got out of high school, have no major skills today. We’ve lost all these jobs, these opportunities for a middle class. We’ve got to rebuild it.
“The jobs have gone overseas to Mexico (and other countries).”
• Governor’s race.
McWherter’s son, Mike, 54, is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor. The primary election is Aug. 5, the general election Nov. 2.
McWherter said he’s going to actively campaign for his son.
“(When I ran for governor) I did well in East Tennessee, for a Democrat,” he said. “I’m going to make a little trip up there. There are about five counties up there that I’m going to visit. They’re going to have a reception for me in each county.”
He said he’ll ask them to support Mike for governor.
“Mike’s got a chance to win this. It’s not a big Democratic year, but he’s got a shot at winning the governor’s race. It’s a challenge for him. He’s been in every county in the state.
“He’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, and he’s right. The people out in the rural areas just don’t have any jobs. They are just having to leave. If they’re not farming, they have to leave. That’s why the cities are growing. Memphis’ population is going up. Nashville is really going up. Jobs come to the urban areas where they’ve got good air facilities and air support. It just makes a difference.”
• Former President Bill Clinton.
“I hope we’re going to get Clinton down here after the primary election for a fund-raising event and we see who the Republican candidate is. I have spoken to his scheduling people in his New York office. They are going to try to work out a date.
“He was down here last year for our Jackson dinner. They ended up with 2,500 people and couldn’t feed all of them. So he draws a good crowd. He told me last year he’d come back and help Mike if he ran and needed him.
“I was a supporter of Clinton. I don’t support his immoral character sometimes, but he did a good job as president. He got some legislation passed and he got the budget balanced. He made a contribution to this country.”
• Al and Tipper Gore.
McWherter said when he heard the news that the former vice president and his wife were divorcing, he was shocked.
“Lord, just look at Albert and Tipper. That shocked me. I thought they were family, totally family-oriented. What happened to them, I have no idea. I was shocked out of my shoes when I heard it on the news and read about it in the papers the next day.
“It is tragic. Good thing is, their kids are all grown. Al’s mother was a lovely lady. She’s gone, and I’m glad she wasn’t here to see it.”
Published in The Messenger 6.14.10