Bill Clinton stumps for Mike McWherter
Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:00 pm
By: The Associated Press
The Messenger 09.14.10
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Bill Clinton on Thursday urged Tennesseans to rally behind gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter just as they did when they twice voted for him for president in the 1990s.
Clinton was the headliner for a rally in a park outside the Country Music Hall of Fame, followed by what the campaign called a “high-dollar” fundraiser for McWherter, the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter.
Clinton cited the elder McWherter’s key role in helping him carry Tennessee in his presidential elections, the last times a Democratic presidential candidate won in the state. President Obama, by contrast, lost Tennessee by 15 percentage points in 2008.
Clinton said in his 25-minute speech that McWherter would build on the legacy of term-limited Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
“Mike McWherter actually has a program for getting Tennessee’s economy moving faster and going in the right direction and building on all the good things Phil Bredesen has done,” Clinton said.
The Nashville event came after Clinton campaigned for a Democratic candidate in Georgia, Alabama and his home state of Arkansas.
In his introduction of Clinton, McWherter criticized his Republican rival Bill Haslam’s record as Knoxville mayor and took a swipe at his previous roles as an executive with family founded Pilot Corp., a truck stop chain that is one of the country’s largest privately-owned companies.
“His business record is pretty oily,” McWherter said.
Bredesen in his introduction of McWherter argued that the state shouldn’t change the course he has laid out in his two terms in office.
“Why would you want to change direction now?” Bredesen said. “Trim the sails? Sure. But turn the ship around? Why would you want to do that?”
U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis of Pall Mall struck a centrist tone in his speech.
“We have to push back those who are the radicals on either side of the political spectrum,” he said. “They’re not the ones who control what goes on in America today.”
Haslam this week announced a series of fundraisers around the state. Hosts include U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, a former rival for the gubernatorial nomination.
Spokesman David Smith said the Haslam campaign is “not worried about Mike’s event.”
McWherter was unopposed in the Democratic primary and struggled to keep pace with Republican fundraising totals.
Through the last reporting period before primary, Republican nominee Bill Haslam had raised $9.4 million and given his campaign another $1.5 million of his own money. McWherter raised just $1.6 million and gave his campaign another $1 million.