Ramsey hits Haslam, Wamp for celebrities on campaign trail
Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 8:02 pm
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
CROSSVILLE (AP) — Bill Haslam and Zach Wamp are drawing on the help of some prominent friends as they hit the trail for the last days of the Republican gubernatorial campaign in Tennessee.
Haslam has been joined by University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, while Wamp is bringing along bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs in the run-up to the Thursday primary.
Rival GOP hopeful Ron Ramsey, meanwhile, is dismissing the moves as “absolute gimmickry.”
“Who cares who the basketball coach is for?” Ramsey said at a weekend GOP picnic in Crossville. “I’ve got the Gun Owners of America for me.”
Wamp, a congressman from Chattanooga, said in a Monday morning Twitter post that as the parent of a UT student and supporter of the school, he believes “Bruce Pearl has no business endorsing candidates for state office.”
Haslam said Pearl, who was scheduled to ride on the campaign bus on Monday and Tuesday, asked to participate in the campaign.
“We let coaches advertise for banks and car dealerships and all that,” Haslam said at a Nashville fundraiser Monday night. “Why can’t they say which say what political candidate they’re for?”
Pearl said he considers himself a Republican, but does not often get involved in campaigns.
“I don’t know anything about politics,” he said. “All I know is I have a vote. And in this country you’re allowed to express your opinions.”
Wamp, who has earned the support of country and Christian artists like John Rich and Michael W. Smith, said at the Crossville picnic that Skaggs has become a “close family friend” and that he will perform at campaign stops on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We’re doing five events with him in Middle and West Tennessee, because he asked to,” Wamp said. “He wanted to.”
A campaign schedule released on Monday showed that Ramsey isn’t entirely exempt from using an outside star power to draw supporters. An election eve rally in Blountville on Wednesday night features Jimmy Fortune, a former member of the Statler Brothers and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
All three of the candidates were scheduled to stump in each grand division of the state before making a final stop up in their respective home towns.
Haslam said he would spend Thursday morning attending to mayoral duties in Knoxville before heading to Nashville, while Ramsey also planned to travel from his home in Blountville to the state capital to watch the election returns.
Wamp planned to spend the primary night in Chattanooga.
Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, is the lone Democrat running.
Published in The Messenger 8.3.10