"I've had the unique opportunity in my life to really be able to observe two very successful governors, and I can tell you I learned from my father by deed and word the most important job of being governor is to look after the people's interest. Governor Bredesen, I've learned from you truly that creativity and drive have helped move this state forward and grow our economy."
In typical foot-in-mouth fashion, Bredesen admitted to reporters afterward "I was always going to endorse the Democratic nominee," and he stumbled a little even in his speech. As he recognized Ned, Bredesen said: "It gives me great pleasure to, in some small way, help pay back all the things you’ve done for me to be helping Mike here." Apparently realizing how that sounded, he quickly added, "Not because of that. Mike is a great candidate."
"Every time you have an election like this, you know, the future of the state really is at stake. I mean, you can send the state spinning off in very different directions depending on who is the governor. The thing I really like about Mike, and the reason I’m very happy to be here endorsing him, is just that I think he has that combination of believing in the right things and commonsense and feet on the ground to make sure that Tennessee continues to advance in the ways that it has been doing over the past decades."
The event succeeded in snagging some much-needed publicity for McWherter. But there was not a single mention of McWherter's Republican rivals or any of their positions, so his campaign blew yet another opportunity to draw distinctions between their guy and the opposition.
Update: Bredesen may like Mike but, talking to reporters after the event, he didn't exactly embrace the only real proposal of McWherter's campaign—tax credits for job-creating businesses. It's not crazy, the governor said, just impractical at this time.
“It’s not practical today. But if the economy comes back strongly, as we had for a couple of years in the middle of my term, that certainly could be one of the things that you do. I don’t think it’s a crazy thing to propose at all and, with the economy coming back, it’s a possibility.”
Update II: Republicans scoff. “Mike McWherter knows he cannot get elected on his own and is depending on his dad and Gov. Bredesen to gain voter support."
Update III: Democrats fire back. "Republicans running scared with Gov. Bredesen’s endorsement of Mike McWherter."