Category Archives: presidential politics

Christian conservatives ‘cheapest date in American politics’?

David French, a Columbia, Tenn.-based conservative commentator who toyed with running for president earlier this year, told a Southern Baptist gathering that Christian conservatives should cease being “the cheapest date in American politics” by always backing Republicans, reports The Tennessean.

The National Review staff writer …called this year’s election cycle a “colossal, miserable, disgusting failure” with nomination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but added “in American history it’s been worse.”

While the Columbia resident dissected how the election wound up in such a gloomy state, he also laid out a path for social conservatives Saturday at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s post conference in Nashville. The morning event delved into the presidential election, religious liberty and the future of the church.

“We cannot tie ourselves to one political party,” French said. Continue reading

Nashville Kaine event part of national Clinton strategy?

Politico has a story on the Clinton campaign strategy in sending vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine to red states — including Tennessee with a Nashville event scheduled next Tuesday — for fundraising. An excerpt:

“So when they’re doing routine fundraising in [traditionally Republican] states, they have the ability to do so because they don’t have to position their vice presidential candidate in battleground states in order to bracket the other ticket. They’re free to open up a new front.”

In an ideal world for the Democratic ticket, every Clinton or Kaine event in a traditionally Republican or Republican-leaning state would set off alarm bells at Trump headquarters that would have his strategists scrambling to throw their limited time and money at states other than Ohio or Florida — which he must win to even come close.

Already this week, Trump has gone so far as to hire new operatives in Georgia, a state where President Barack Obama raised money for Clinton earlier this summer, where Bill Clinton is due to do the same next week, and where leading Democrats see a real opportunity to make inroads. His team this month requested ad rates there, too, as well as in other states most Republicans have not often had to worry about defending, such as Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri. He’s even hired a pair of operatives in South Carolina, a usually deep red state where one recent public poll showed Clinton within striking distance.
Now, pushing deeper into Republican territory, Kaine’s fundraising spree is taking him to a trio of spots that are far from traditional Democratic fundraising hubs at a time when most vice presidential contenders tend to camp out full-time in swing states rather than scouring second- or third-tier campaign finance cities.

After a public-facing campaign swing through North Carolina, Iowa, and Wisconsin earlier in the week and a stop in Missouri on Wednesday, Kaine is due for one closed-doors event in Sun Valley, Idaho and two in Jackson, Wyoming on Thursday. Following his private stops in more traditional Democratic fundraising centers — eight total events in Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, northern California, and the Denver suburbs by Monday — he’s scheduled to be in Little Rock, Arkansas and Nashville, Tennessee for two more on Tuesday, according to fundraiser invitations obtained by POLITICO.

TN Sanders delegates not rowdy, but not happy either

From a Tennessean report on doings at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:

Tennessee was not among the delegations with large rowdy packs of Sanders loyalists.

…But Kristy Douglas, 27, a Sanders delegate from Jasper, Tenn., said she’s unsure whether she will vote for Clinton in November, though she also made clear she wouldn’t vote for Trump either. She was among those at an afternoon rally of around 1,900 in Philadelphia Monday who participated in a chorus of boos when the Vermont senator praised Clinton.

“We [feel] like it’s still not over yet,” Douglas said. She noted several pending lawsuits pertaining to the primary process, uncounted ballots in California in addition to the latest email scandal and Clinton’s vice presidential pick Sen. Tim Kaine who she called “unprogressive.”

“I don’t think Hillary wants our support and she’s not going to get it,” Douglas said. “There’s a lot of angry people out there that feel this was stolen from us.”

…Laurie Dworak, a 52-year-old Sanders delegate from Chattanooga, was not among the Sanders backers who booed during Monday’s rally. But she said she understands why some did, likening their expression to an opportunity to provide catharsis for the contentious race or booing the coach of an opposing football team.

She’s among the Sanders supporters who say she will vote for Clinton in the general election. She also predicted that the majority of her fellow Sanders supporters would eventually back Clinton as well.

“It’s more an expression of frustration,” Dworak said of the booing. “Nobody wants to lose and right now it feels as if we’ve lost.

“When the coach mentions the opposing team, you’re going to boo,” she said. Continue reading

David French takes a pass on running for president

Tennessee attorney David French says he has decided not to run as an independent candidate for president, according to Michael Collins.

“After days of prayer, reflection, and serious study of the possibilities, I am not going to run as an independent candidate for president of the United States,” French wrote in an article posted Sunday night on The National Review’s website. (Note: It’s HERE.)

French, who reportedly had been encouraged by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to mount an independent presidential campaign as an alternative to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, said he seriously considered running “only because we live in historic times.”

“Never before have both parties failed so spectacularly, producing two dishonest, deceitful candidates who should be disqualified from running for town council, much less leader of the free world,” he wrote.

French said while he’s not the person to challenge Trump or Clinton, he still believes there is a path open for others.

“But given the timing, the best chance for success goes to a person who either is extraordinarily wealthy (or has immediate access to extraordinary wealth) or is a transformational political talent,” he wrote.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve my country, and I thank God for the successes I’ve had as a lawyer and a writer,” French said. “But it is plain to me that I’m not the right person for this effort.”

French, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and alum of Harvard Law School, is a staff writer for The National Review who lives and works in Columbia with his wife and three children.

TN Trump delegate advocates death for violators of Constitution

A Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention from East Tennessee was also a delegate to a “Continental Congress of 2009” that advocated replacing the Department of Homeland Security with citizen militias and recently advocated the killing of U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution, according to Richard Locker.

The Trump campaign approved M. David Riden of rural McMinn County as one of its delegates. Voters in East Tennessee’s Third Congressional District elected him as a Trump-committed delegate and his wife Perry Riden as an alternate, in the state’s March 1 Republican presidential primary.

Gov. Bill Haslam will be a Marco Rubio delegate at the convention, although Rubio withdrew after the Tennessee primary. Asked to comment on Riden’s views, Haslam’s press secretary, David Smith, would only say, “The governor has a strict policy against elected officials being assassinated.”

Riden’s views attracted the interest of the national liberal magazine Mother Jones, which published an article on its website Thursday linking him to the murky world of far-right militias and “patriot” groups. (Note: It’s HERE.) Riden did not return repeated calls and emails from the News Sentinel for comment, but the Mother Jones article reported that he discussed his views in an interview with the magazine.

The article quotes Riden as saying that U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution may have to be done away with: “The polite word is ‘eliminated.’ The harsh word is ‘killed,'” Riden reportedly told Mother Jones. And he said all three branches of the federal government are “way off from the Constitution right now.”

Tennessee Republican leaders appeared to be distancing themselves from the delegate they’ll be sitting with on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena next month.

“If true, those views are not reflective in any way of the Tennessee Republican Party. We advocate for reforms by electing smart, principled conservatives and our record proves that. We would refer you to the Trump campaign for any additional information regarding individuals serving as their delegates,” TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes of Knoxville said in a statement.

Note: Another quote from the Mother Jones article:

Riden said his wife, Perry Riden, who is an alternate Trump delegate from Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, also thinks Obama is dangerous. “My wife looks at me and says, ‘Remember, he is one of them.’ Meaning he is a Muslim, he is on the side of the terrorists, he will…let Iran have nuclear weapons, which would destroy Israel and the United States, because his way of thinking is right in line with Iran, North Korea, and Russia.”

Corker: Investigation could be ‘blessing’ in dealings with Trump

Sen. Bob Corker insists that the federal investigation into his personal finances won’t hurt his chances of being tapped as Donald Trump’s vice president — not that he’s angling for the job, anyway.

So reports Politico. Excerpt:

“In some ways, you could look at what has happened over the course of the last year — if that was something that was gonna matter — you could almost look at it as a blessing,” the Tennessee Republican said in an interview, referring to the inquiries by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. “From the standpoint of my finances, I will be the most vetted person here.”

Federal investigators are looking into possible financial irregularities involving CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based real estate investment trust that owns or manages dozens of shopping centers and malls across the country. Corker has bought and sold millions of dollars in CBL stock since he was elected to the Senate in 2006, but failed to disclose several of those transactions. Now Corker finds himself ensnared in a federal probe.

Corker has ties to senior CBL officials — some of whom have donated to his election campaigns — and after he graduated from college, worked briefly for a contracting company that did business with CBL. Several of his CBL transactions occurred around the same time that UBS Securities made ratings changes on CBL stock.

Corker said he had no inside information on the company’s finances.

But because of his failure to report the CBL transactions, as well as others involving several hedge funds, Corker last year was forced to refile years’ worth of annual disclosure forms required of all lawmakers.

……“There is absolutely nothing there,” Corker said of the federal probe.

The second-term senator, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, downplayed speculation that he could be chosen as Trump’s running mate. Corker also has been mentioned as a potential secretary of state.

“First of all, I have no reason to believe that I am being considered for that position,” Corker said in response to a question about whether he wants to be chosen for vice president, or if the federal investigation could doom his chances. “I haven’t expressed any interest in it and never have.”

“I don’t even think there’s a list yet” of potential Trump running mates, Corker added. “And I have no reason to believe that if a list is developed, I’ll be on it.”

Corker said he and Trump didn’t discuss the possibility of his being picked for the ticket during their May 23 meeting at Trump Tower. “It wouldn’t have been appropriate,” Corker, 63, said. “The purpose was about foreign policy and just the shape of the campaign. It was really a sit-down meeting, the first chance we’ve had to get to know each other.”

Corker even tried to spin the revelation of the federal investigation into his finances as a positive development.

French neighbors say he’d be a great presidential candidate; others not so much

The notion of Tennessee-based lawyer and conservative activist-author David French as a presidential candidate is getting something short of rave reviews in national media since floated by Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard previous post HERE). But his hometown newspaper in Columbia reports that some of French’s neighbors – he “lives in Zion Crossings with his wife, Nancy, and three children” — think that’s a good idea.


French and his family were not home when The Daily Herald visited Tuesday. His house sitter said French was vacationing in New York for a month. Friends and neighbors said French would be a Christian voice in the election.

“David is a man of character and integrity,” said Columbia pastor Russ Adcox, who went to school with Nancy French at Lipscomb University as an undergraduate. “I know he would run a principled campaign if he got involved.“

How serious is he about a third-party run? I’m not sure. But it would be exciting if Columbia had someone in the race,” said Adcox, pastor at Maury Hills Church.

French is serving his second, three-year term on Zion Christian Academy’s board of directors. He and his family moved to Maury County 10 years ago, closing on his home in June 2006, according to public records. Continue reading

Corker, Trump confer — mostly on policy, senator says

NEW YORK (AP) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump met with Bob Corker in New York on Monday, intensifying speculation that the U.S. senator from Tennessee may be on Trump’s vice presidential shortlist.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Corker described the get-together at Trump Tower in Manhattan as “a meeting between two people who didn’t know each other except over phone calls getting to know each other.”

He said he has no reason to believe he’s being vetted as a potential Trump running mate or for a Cabinet position should Trump win the general election.

“I have no reason whatsoever to believe I am being considered for a position like that,” Corker told reporters who pressed him about various possible positions.

Corker is currently the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

In a statement, Corker’s chief of staff Todd Womack said the pair had “had a good meeting…in which they engaged in a wide-ranging policy discussion.”

Corker praised a high-profile foreign policy speech that Trump delivered in Washington last month, saying in a statement that “in a year where angry rhetoric has defined the presidential race on both sides of the aisle, it is my hope that candidates in both parties will begin focusing not only on the problems we face but on solutions.” He said he believed the speech “could be an important step in that direction.”

A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not immediately responded to a request for comment on the meeting.

Sunday column: Trump’s TN triumph undermined?

Donald Trump backers rightly saw last weekend’s party maneuvering on Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention as undercutting their candidate’s prospects for winning the presidential nomination, but they may have undercut those prospects further with their reaction.

Consider the case of Ken Gross, a member of the GOP’s State Executive Committee representing Knox County who was appointed a Trump delegate — one on a slate put together by state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes and his staff after much negotiating and approved by the executive committee on a 40-25 vote.

If you’re not familiar with the arcane rules for delegate selection — and very few people are — most of Tennessee’s 58 delegates to the GOP convention were chosen by voting on individual delegate candidates in the March 1 presidential preference primary. But some are appointed by the executive committee and assigned to represent a designated candidate based on the presidential preference primary results. That was the focus of last weekend’s meeting.
Continue reading

Legislators debate — but don’t act — on popular election of presidents

Tennessee legislators have dodged a vote on a controversial nationwide push for election of United States president through popular vote — the equivalent of a rejection that undermines an effort approved in 11 other states.

The proposed “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact” basically calls for states to enter into an agreement to have their representatives to the Electoral College cast ballots for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote, not the candidate who wins their home state. The bill — HB1728 — to have Tennessee join the compact was sponsored by Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

Tracy never brought the bill up for consideration in a committee. Sexton did two weeks ago, triggering a lengthy hearing with several proponents and opponents from across the nation appearing to testify before the House Local Government Committee. Among supporters was Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Among opponents was John Ryder of Memphis, who now serves as general counsel to the RNC and is also a member of the RNC board.

State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins, meanwhile, testified — without declaring preference one way or the other on the general concept of a popular election of the president — that the proposed compact conflicts substantially with current Tennessee election laws. If the bill was enacted, Goins said, it would inevitably lead to lawsuits and great confusion with the stakes conceivably including who serves as the nation’s president.

After the hearing, Sexton put off any vote on the measure until last week, when he quietly took the bill “off notice” at the committee’s last scheduled meeting of the 2016 session, meaning apparently no vote will be sought.