Tag Archives: convention

Corker Went From GOP Convention to Middle East

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made the rounds at the Republican National Convention last week, appearing at breakfasts and luncheons for the Tennessee GOP delegation before discreetly plotting his exit, according to Greg Johnson.
“I’ve got some important business in the Middle East,” Corker quietly told a small group of convention-goers before taking his leave.
Corker surfaced days later in Istanbul, after visiting Turkey’s border with war-torn Syria.
“I just visited the border between Turkey and Syria and met with various groups representing the Syrian opposition and refugees,” said Corker in a statement. “Hearing the stories of what is happening every day to ordinary citizens in Syria challenges the most basic American sensibilities.”
Some 80,000 refugees have crossed over Syria’s northwest border into Turkey. More than 23,000 Syrians, including 2,200 children, have been killed in the conflict between those fighting for democracy and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, a man Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once called “a reformer.”

Notes on TN Democrats at the National Convention, 9/6/12

Biden’s Tennessee Connection
When Joe Biden started running for a Senate seat in 1972, few people thought the young man from Delaware had a chance, writes Michael Cass, but a well-placed Tennessee couple tagged him early as an up-and-comer.
“I was 29 years old, running for the United States Senate against a guy with an 81 percent favorable rating, a year where Richard Nixon won my state by over 65 percent of the vote, and I was an Irish Catholic in a state that (had) never elected one,” Biden told Tennessee Democrats in a speech two years ago, recounting a story that got scant media attention at the time.
Biden pulled off a stunning, 3,162-vote upset with a mix of youthful vigor, skillful campaigning, energized volunteers and smart advertising — fueled by tens of thousands of dollars that a prominent Tennessee couple raised for his campaign.

Ashley Action
Actress Ashley Judd put her high-wattage star power to use in the political arena on Tuesday by imploring Tennessee’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention to share personal stories of how their lives have improved under President Barack Obama, reports Michael Collins.
Judd said Tennesseans have a rich history and tradition as storytellers that could be used to help the Obama administration make its case for another four years.
“With all of the obfuscation of the facts, with all of the distortions, we have to take the truth and the honesty and the accomplishments back,” the actress said to rousing applause.
Judd, who lives in Williamson County, is one of Tennessee’s 98 delegates and alternates to the national convention, which opened on Tuesday.
The actress was the guest speaker and star attraction at a Tennessee delegation breakfast Tuesday morning. She’ll also have another starring role tonight: She has been chosen to announce the state’s roll call vote from the convention floor when Democrats officially nominate Obama for a second term.

Cooper’s Complaint
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville blasted Davidson County’s recent election problems Wednesday while urging his fellow Tennessee delegates to the Democratic National Convention to work hard to register voters between now and the Oct. 8 deadline, reports The Tennessean.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, folks,” Cooper said at the delegation’s breakfast. “We have got to get our folks registered.”
The congressman said recruiting Democrats to vote for President Barack Obama in November is especially critical in light of Davidson County’s “outrageous” situation. Some voters, including Sheriff Daron Hall, have said they were given Republican ballots by default after poll workers failed to ask them their party preference during the Aug. 2 primary. The county was using new electronic poll books in 60 of 160 precincts.
“This is unbelievable, that anything could be programmed like this to take voters and make them Republican,” Cooper said. “This isn’t like defaulting to R. This is like defrauding folks of their normal rights.
“The implications of this are something. If you treat the sheriff this way, you’ll treat anybody this way.”

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Notes on TN Democrats at the National Convention, 9/4/12

Poking Fun at Clint Eastwood
Tennessee Democrats got their party’s national political convention rolling on Monday by poking fun at Clint Eastwood and asserting that, yes, Americans are better off than they were four years ago, reports Michael Collins.
Taking a page from Eastwood’s skit at the Republican National Convention, delegate Bill Freeman of Nashville brought an empty chair to the stage of a Tennessee Democratic delegation breakfast and pretended to hold a conversation with the missing actor.
In his much-ridiculed performance before GOP delegates in Tampa, Fla., last week, Eastwood critiqued President Barack Obama’s first three years in office while speaking to an empty chair that he said represented Obama.
Freeman, a real-estate executive and prolific Obama fundraiser, said he wanted to remind Eastwood of a few highlights from Obama’s presidency that Eastwood forgot to mention.
“After over a century of working on health-care reforms, the president — my president — got it done,” Freeman said, eliciting hoots and cheers from the other Democrats.

Maryland’s O’Mally Drops By
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made a surprise appearance as the Tennessee delegation to the Democratic National Convention, reports Michael Cass.
O’Malley is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, so there may have been an ulterior motive for his appearance. But the former Baltimore mayor used his few minutes at the podium to promote President Barack Obama, not himself.
O’Malley said Republican nominee Mitt Romney, “armed with his trusty Etch A Sketch, had three days to try to do his reinvention” during his party’s convention last week. O’Malley was referring to a Romney aide’s comparison of moving back to the political middle following the primary season to a children’s toy known for completely erasing a picture.
“Now we have three days to bring us back to the true reality, which is that our economy is getting better, not worse; our country is getting stronger, not weaker; we’re moving forward, not backward; and we’re doing so because of Barack Obama,” he said, proceeding to lead the delegates in a chant of “forward, not backward!”

A Security Swing to Obama?
Seeing an opening in an area they’ve long ceded to Republicans, Tennessee Democrats talked Monday about how to win over voters in the national security arena., according to The Tennessean.
Michael Breen, vice president of the Truman National Security Project, said Democrats in down-ballot races need to find a way to take advantage of the 20-point polling advantage President Barack Obama has opened up over Republican nominee Mitt Romney on matters of national security.
Obama, who gave the orders to capture and kill Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, has dominated so thoroughly that Romney didn’t mention war in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention last week. According to The Associated Press, he was the first GOP nominee to stay away from the topic in 60 years.
But the president’s lead hasn’t “filtered down” to other campaigns, Breen said. In fact, most Democrats start out trailing by 20 points on national security.

Notes on Tennesseans at the Democratic National Convention

Believing in President Obama
Tennessee delegates to the Democratic National Convention are supportive of President Obama despite what pollsters describe as an “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans this year, reports Michael Collins in a setup story on the state’s representatives to the Charlotte gathering.
“It’s really fascinating,” Gloria Johnson, a delegate from Knoxville, said of the convention experience. “You’re sitting there, and there is George Stephanopoulos four seats down. There are all these people there, and nobody cares. We are all there to nominate the person we want to be president.”
Four years ago, Johnson attended her first political convention. She had never been involved in a political party or politics, yet she was so inspired by Obama that she became politically active. Now, she’s chairwoman of the Knox County Democratic Party and a candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Like Dayton and other Obama believers, Johnson was convinced four years ago that as president he would bring about much-needed changes. In her view, he has.
He got health care reform passed, ended the “don’t ask don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the msitary, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law and offered a stimulus package that created millions of private sector jobs, Johnson said

Ashley Judd: Star of the TN Show
Entertainer Ashley Judd, a Tennessee delegate to the convention, tells the Tennessean she’s a dedicated activist.
“I’ve been a Democrat for a very long time,” Judd said. “Family lore says that my beloved great-aunt, Pauline, who lived on a farm in Lawrence County in Eastern Kentucky, named all her dogs after Democrats.”
This week Judd, a famous actress, activist and Williamson County resident, is taking her partisanship to a new level as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. She’s an at-large member of the Tennessee delegation and a campaign surrogate for President Barack Obama, speaking to supporters on his behalf.
And she says her ties to the party run even deeper than those born of family lore.
“The party platform is one of a social justice gospel and faith. It became my party based on a sense of equality and fairness, hard work and advocating for people living at and below the poverty line and helping them strive toward our fabled middle class.”

Clayton Takes a Swat at the Chair
While party unity is a theme at the Democratic convention, Michael Cass reports that disavowed U.S. Senate nominee, Mark Clayton, wasn’t on board, providing a pre-convention parting shot at Tennessee’s party chairman.
Clayton released a lengthy statement Friday that attacked Forrester (without ever daring to mention his name) and the party for supporting gay marriage, saying that stance puts the Democratic establishment out of step with most voters.
“The current TNDP chairman and staff are finding themselves politically isolated and left to represent, with taxpayer funds, the fringe of anti-family, anti-constitution zero-sum politics in Tennessee all the while making President Obama look like a far right-winger by comparison to themselves,” the statement said.
“Mark Clayton always got along fine with previous TNDP chairmen. But in contrast, the current TNDP chairman and his staff who despise Mark do not represent mainstream Democrats in Tennessee and are far to the fringe and far away from even President Obama’s comparatively conservative view on the Constitution and marriage issues.”

The Memphis Mood
Bart Sullivan has commentary from West Tennessee delegates to the convention:
City of Memphis police legal adviser and lawyer Zayid Saleem will be attending his first convention after being elected to the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee. Saleem said he recognizes that Tennessee has gone for the Republican presidential candidate the last two cycles but “we still need to motivate people to get out (to vote) across the state. You never know what will happen.”
Seeing Obama at the 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium Thursday night will be a highlight, he said. “It’s historic to actually be a part of the process.”
Kelly Jacobs of Hernando is driving her bronze Prius — decked out with re-elect Obama signs and Christmas lights — to the convention, her third after former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s run got her charged up in 2004.
While she’s excited to be among other Obama-Biden supporters, she’s disappointed at the decision not to let Dean or Obama’s chief rival in 2008, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, make podium speeches. She also said she had a pile of invitations five inches high by this time four and eight years ago, but now invitations come by e-mail and she wonders if elderly delegates who don’t use computers will miss out.

Gore Dodges Democratic Convention (except as commentator)

Former Vice President Al Gore apparently won’t be attending the Democratic National Convention, though is previously listed as a “super delegate” from Tennessee, reports The Tennessean as part of an overview story on Gore’s present status with the party.
Gore also co-founded Current TV. Instead of speaking this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as his party makes the case for another four years in the White House, he’s expected to anchor Current’s coverage from a New York studio, as he did when Republicans met last week in Florida.
….In late July, the Tennessee Democratic Party listed Gore as a superdelegate to this week’s national convention. (Note: A list of delegates distributed by the state party on Saturday still lists him as a super delegate.) But Current TV announced a week later that Gore would anchor the network’s coverage of both conventions.
Brandon Puttbrese, a spokesman for the state party, said Gore’s staff has said he’ll stay in New York rather than fly to Charlotte to cast a vote for Obama. Because alternates can’t vote for superdelegates, Gore’s absence would leave the Tennessee delegation down a vote.
It’s unclear if Obama’s campaign and Gore ever discussed a speaking role at the convention, which might have reminded liberal Democrats of Obama’s inaction on climate change.

Another excerpt from the Tennessean story:
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper chalked the 2000 vote up to the fickleness of the American electorate. Like the British people voting Prime Minister Winston Churchill out of office after he led them through World War II, voters didn’t realize what Clinton and Gore had achieved, Cooper said.
“We dream today of having a budget surplus, and Clinton gave us three in a row,” he said. “People in 2000 took that sort of prosperity for granted.”
….Friends say Gore has never discussed his deepest feelings about the (2000 presidential race) loss, which he publicly addressed with a gracious speech the day after the Supreme Court ruling.
Cooper called Gore “one of the greatest Tennesseans ever” but said he has “a lot of arrows in his back” as a result of his outspoken advocacy.
“There’s even a section in the Bible that says no prophet is honored in his hometown,” Cooper said.


Note: The Tennessean says Gore declined to be interviewed. He’s turned down my last umpteen requests over the past decade or so, too.

Notes on Lamar and Other Tennesseans at GOP Convention

Alexander: GOP Dominance Can Be a Problem
Sen. Lamar Alexander told reporters at the Republican National Convention that he fears the party that put Howard Baker, Bill Frist and himself into the Senate — and the national spotlight — could become complacent if it does not push itself to remain open to a variety of people. More from Chas Sisk:
“I don’t see any signs of it yet, but entrenched success breeds vulnerability, so we have to be on our toes and keep an open door and continue to recruit good candidates,” he said. “We have to have a variety of thinking — not trying to turn everybody to a single point of view.”
Alexander gave similar advice in a lunchtime speech to the Tennessee delegation to the convention. Among other things, he recommended keeping the Republican primary open to all voters
.
A Laughing With Lamar
Sen. Lamar Alexander, answering a question about the Republican party’s platform (as reported in a Bart Sullivan notebook):
“The platform is a repository for a variety of ideas from a broad spectrum of the Republican Party, and that’s a good place for those ideas.”
Then he, and everyone in the room, roared with laughter.
“I think I’m elected to pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and I’ll certainly show respect for the ideas in the platform, but I have my own views,” he said.
…Of one provision, Alexander was more specifically critical. “Sometimes these Audit-the-Fed bills turn into ‘substitute the Congress for the Federal Reserve Board.’ I can’t think of any organization in the country I’d trust less with holding down inflation than the United States Congress.”

And, on Sen. Bob Corker having a Democratic opponent disavowed by his own party:
“I stay up late at night worrying about whether he’s going to be sitting next to me next year,” Alexander joked. Then, turning serious, he said: “I think it’s a testament to the fact he’s done such a heck of a good job … Democrats can’t even work up enough sweat to find a candidate to run against him.”
Santorum to Tennesseans: Go to N.C
Comparing Obama to an emperor while discoursing on the French Revolution, Rick Santorum asked Tennessee delegates to join his Patriot Voices group to campaign for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in North Carolina, reports the Tennessean. The former Romney foe said he is recruiting volunteers around the country for his organization to work in five states that could determine the outcome of the November election.
“North Carolina is just off red,” he said, referring to the color often used by political analysts to designate a Republican-leaning state. “It needs some good work from folks from Tennessee. You guys talk like people from North Carolina. It’s easy for you to go over there as covert North Carolinians.”
Santorum’s plea for aid followed a brief address in which he outlined his views on the roots of American government and differences between the American and French revolutions.
Santorum said that because French revolutionaries did not recognize God in their founding documents, they ultimately let democratic principles give way to political executions and dictatorship.

TN Delegates Optimistic at End
Michael Collins has quotes from several Tennessee delegates on the end of the convention. A sample:
While most polls show the contest dead even as it enters the final stretch, delegate Randy Boyd of Knoxville said the Romney team has effectively used a campaign strategy that calls to mind the rope-a-dope boxing tactic often associated with Muhammad Ali.
The idea is to trick your opponent into thinking you’re in trouble so he’ll keep throwing punches and wear himself out.
“In the last three rounds,” Boyd said, “we’ve sat in the corner and taken punch after punch after punch. The other guy has worn himself out. And now, all of a sudden, we’re going into the last rounds and we’re fresh and have more resources, more energy, and we’re even on the balance. What a great position to be in.”

TN Republican Convention Notes, Thursday edition

Conventional Unity for TN GOP
At a convention where states such as Minnesota, Iowa and Maine have been divided by an insurgency led by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, The Tennessean reports that self-identified tea party activists in the Tennessee delegation have said they want to set their disagreements aside in the interest of party unity.
“I think in the state of Tennesee that we address those tea party-type issues in the legislature all the time because we agree with them,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “I just don’t think we see a lot of disunity in Tennessee.”
…”I think if you asked around, you’d have a pretty good representation of the entire spectrum of the Republican Party,” Haslam said of the delegation. “Some of that is maybe they (tea party leaders) didn’t get on the ballot to be a delegate. There’s a process you have to go through. … But I’m not certain I buy that there are no tea party people here.”

Brock Credits Tea Party
Former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Tuesday night that he credits the tea party for much of the enthusiasm at this year’s convention. (From a Commercial Appeal convention notebook).
“I love it,” he said amid the Tennessee delegation on the convention floor. “There’s a lot of different energy here. I credit the tea party a lot for bringing some real — I’m a grass-roots guy. That’s what I tried to do when I was national chairman and that’s what I tried to do in Tennessee.
Brock, 81, served one term from 1971 to 1977 then was named GOP chairman,

Winfield and Beth
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn on House Speaker Beth Harwell (from a Tennessean convention notebook):
“As the governor of the state of Tennessee, I had to deal with some interesting people,” Dunn said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d want to go up to the speaker of the House of Representatives in the state of Tennessee and give them a big hug and a kiss.”
Ramsey Remembers
While entertaining Tennesseans at the Republican National Convention, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey hopped in the way-back machine and told the story about the day he was elected Senate speaker in 2007.
His lively retelling Monday night featured the role then-Sen. Rosalind Kurita played the day she crossed party lines to vote to, in essence, hand the Republican Ramsey the gavel, according to the Memphis Flyer.
“I walk up the front of the chamber, turn around and come back and make eye contact with her, and she just winks at me. I said, ‘Hot dang, baby. We’re still in the game here. We’re still rocking and rolling.'”
(Above from TNReport, which also has a video.)

Campfield Says Rat Rump Reference to Black Caucus a GOP Catch Phrase

State Sen. Stacey Campfield says a colleague’s reference to a rat’s rump in a rebuke to the Legislature’s Black Caucus has become a “catch phrase” among members of Tennessee’s delegation to the Republican National Convention.
Expanding in a telephone interview on comments made in blog posts from the convention, the Knoxville lawmaker also said Wednesday the Black Caucus is a “segregationist organization” that should be ignored, just as Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, suggested in a controversial email.
That email, sent to Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, with a request that she forward it to other members of the Black Caucus said: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the Black Caucus thinks.” He was responding to a Black Caucus comments on a Senate subcommittee report.
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, chairman of the Black Caucus, said Campfield’s remarks were “asinine.” Adam Nickas, executive director of the state Republican party, said in an email that Campfield was wrong about use of the phrase at the convention.
“The only catch phrase I’ve been hearing is, “We built it,” in response to President Obama’s degrading comments to hard working small business owners,” Nickas wrote.
“In regards to Mr. Campfield and Summerville’s comments: We do not endorse their comments and they are not reflective of the view of the state party. Such statements are simply ridiculous.”

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On Sen. Campfield and Other Tennesseans at GOP Convention

On the Internet, state Sen. Stacey Campfield may well be attracting more interest than anyone from Tennessee doing reports on the Republican National Convention. Posts on his blog from the convention have ranged from reporting that “I don’t give a rat’s ass” has become a catchphrase in the Tennessee delegation – it ties into Sen. Jim Summerville using the phrase in an email to the legislature’s Black Caucus – to a review the weather.
Some sample reaction: The “rat’s ass” remark prompted a Memphis Flyer post declaring, basically, that Campfield was confirming that Republicans are racist. Jeff Woods, meanwhile, pointed to Campfield posts in general on Tuesday – “So far with the festivities just getting under way, he’s managed to offend women, African Americans and residents of virtually the entire Gulf Coast.” (A day earlier, Woodsie declared that “Congressman Todd Akin’s unfortunate remarks about rape and pregnancy have produced an image-shaping PR bonanza” for Campfield.)
A Psychology Today blog, meanwhile, has joined the Campfield conversation by revisiting his past remarks on AIDs and monkeys and some research on homophobia.
But there are other reports:

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Tennesseans at GOP Convention, Day 2

Haslam: From Fla. to N.C. for Romney
Gov. Bill Haslam travels to Tampa today but says he’ll soon be on the road again to North Carolina where he’ll resume his role as a Romney surrogate.reports WPLN.
The first-term governor says the choice is between four more years of the federal government telling people what to do and a government that – in his words – “takes advantage…of the free enterprise system.”
“I think the President has done a nice job on some things. I don’t think he has a real appreciation for what makes the economy grow, and I think the numbers reflect that.”
While a longtime Romney backer, Governor Haslam does not have a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
Corker: Romney’s Like Reagan
The presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the most important race the country has seen since the 1980 matchup between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Monday.
More from Michael Collins:
The Chattanooga Republican said he attended an event with Romney a couple of months ago in Park City, Utah, where Romney gave a speech that sounded “incredibly Reaganesque.”
“I left there about as excited as I could possibly have been at that moment,” Corker told Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention. “I think when people get to see who he is, it’s going to make a tremendous difference in this race.”
Corker, one of the guest speakers at a breakfast meeting for the state’s delegates, framed the race between Obama and Romney as a choice between “individualism and really allowing people real opportunity” versus “collectivism and trying to have equal outcomes.”
…Corker offered high praise for Romney’s vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the influential chairman of the House Budget Committee. Corker said he has spent a lot of time with Ryan on budget issues and has gotten to know him really well.
Hagerty: A Candidate Himself Someday?
State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, a longtime friend of Mitt Romney, is interviewed by Chas Sisk.
“I think it’s going to be a real rush, to see someone that you’ve worked so hard for get to this next level,” Hagerty…said of Mitt Romney, the man he has supported for president for more than half a decade. “It’s also going to be a real grounding sense of responsibility there, because we’ve got the race of a lifetime.”
Hagerty first met Romney when the two were young consultants based in Boston, part of a cadre of bright minds recruited from prestigious law and business schools in the 1970s and 1980s to remake blue-chip companies. He was part of a group who urged Romney to get into presidential politics six years ago, and he was a key member of the fundraising team for Romney’s first bid for the White House in 2008.
Hagerty and his wife, Chrissy, have been selected as delegates to the Republican National Convention, an honor that will let them both cast ballots to nominate their friend for president.
The campaign could be a precursor to one of Hagerty’s own. The former political aide and financial executive has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Congress or the governor’s office after Gov. Bill Haslam’s tenure has run its course in 2014 or 2018.
…Hagerty said he came to know Bill Haslam in 2008, as the then Knoxville mayor was launching a run for governor. Just as Romney did in his runs for president, Haslam committed two years to his gubernatorial campaign.
“Whether it’s a person running for a county- or city-level position or a statewide position or national position, I feel certain that people that do it and do it well are putting 120 percent of their available time into the run,” he said. “Anybody that cares as much as a candidate that wins probably does; you’re putting your all into it.”
It is that depth of commitment needed that gives Hagerty pause about running for office himself. While he said he enjoys serving in government, Hagerty doubted that most people understand how much work it takes to win an election.
“You go through really a gauntlet of stresses and pressures,” he said. “I think until you’re near a person that does that, one doesn’t appreciate how challenging it is.

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