Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who Needs Campaign Cash? Wamp Fends Off Skeptics: 'I'm a Heat-Seeking Missile'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

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It must gall Zach Wamp that he has to spend so much time answering skeptics who are certain Bill Haslam is about to buy the governor's office. The Mighty Mouse of Tennessee politics, Wamp is bursting with enthusiasm for his campaign and talks a mile a minute at every opportunity about all he would accomplish as Tennessee's chief executive. He came to the Capitol today with country star John Rich in tow to announce his candidacy (didn't he already do that?) but all reporters wanted to know was how Wamp can compete against Haslam's money.

In response, Wamp claimed variously (1) that he's a "heat-seeking missile" and a "red-blooded Tennessean" (2) that the rich and powerful are switching to his campaign for reasons that he didn't explain (3) that he doesn't need so much money actually ("just enough and not the most") and (4) regardless, he's riding a wave of populist tea party outrage to victory just like Scott Brown did in the "Massachusetts miracle." Here are excerpts from Wamp's comments:

"Obviously, some people have started spending money historically early. But we'll all start spending money at the right time. But in the meantime, I continue to travel the state like a heat-seeking missile trying to make my case on trying to make Tennessee a better place. I'm greatly encouraged by my growing base of support, not just among the grassroots, which we always knew would be very supportive of my campaign, but among the financial base because frankly many of them early thought the guy with the most money was going to win. Now they know better. And they are coming to us in a very powerful and meaningful way just at the right time as we begin the home stretch here over the next nine months."

"We knew from the very beginning that if they [Haslam's campaign] chose to spend $50 million, they could. We do it the old-fashioned way. ... The Massachusetts miracle woke a lot of people up to what's happening in this country. They're concerned about big government but they're also concerned about big business and big special interest and collusion and who's going to benefit. This is about the people, folks. I am red-blooded, Tennessee, middle-class conservative wanting to govern and lead our state to a new and better place. And we're going to have enough money to communicate that message to 500,000 people and we won't waste a lot of money. It just takes enough and not the most. So that should not deter us or intimidate us."

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