Gov. Bill Haslam’s benign attitude toward Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee is drawing criticism from at least one Tennessee delegate – former state Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville – while others are kinda, sorta saying that the governor’s less-than-enthusiastic position is OK and he’ll come around.
Further from The Tennessean:
“A lot of (delegates) have said that they are let down with Bill Haslam – by him not helping out Donald Trump he’s practically supporting Hillary Clinton,” former state Sen. Stacey Campfield told The Tennessean on Monday.
Haslam has on occasion been critical of Trump. In June, the Knoxville Republican called recent attacks by Trump on GOP governors “not helpful.” The governor has also said Trump’s comments about federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, which many have said are racist remarks, were “indefensible.”
…Robert Duvall, former Metro councilman and Trump delegate, said he’s heard some people ask about why Haslam hasn’t been more vocal in his support for the real estate mogul, especially after the governor met with the presumptive nominee. However, Duvall believes the governor is ready to support Trump.
“I was with Bill earlier today, and he seemed to be OK. And if you listened to what he had to say, while he didn’t sit here and (say) Trump by name, I felt like he was saying it’s time to get behind our candidate. Whether it’s half-hearted or not, I don’t know how gung-ho you’re going to be.”
James Eaton, a Trump delegate from Williamson County, said he believes that Haslam is simply waiting until the presidential candidate officially becomes the Republican nominee.
“There’s a lot of people in the Republican Party that will not say I’m supporting Trump but once he’s nominated they’ll support him,” he said.
Duvall said he expects Haslam to eventually donate to Trump. If he doesn’t, and Trump wins Tennessee as expected, Duvall believes it could make any future political ambitions of the term-limited governor much more difficult.
“It could be Haslam stays out of the race, but I think that could be political suicide in Tennessee if he wanted to run for any office,” Duvall said.
“That would make it hard for him to build the coalition he needs to even win a primary. I think Bill’s smarter than that.”