Mike McWherter took flak from the Memphis media a couple weeks ago for failing to make enough appearances in their downtrodden city. So yesterday—guess what?—McWherter showed up on the muddy Mississippi to talk about how much he loves Memphis. According to Jackson Baker's report, McWherter hit a deer and smashed up his car (maybe that explains why he's been missing from the Bluff City) but he loves Memphis so much he borrowed Ned's Chrysler Sebring to make yesterday's drive.
"I understand Memphis. I grew up coming to Memphis, Tennessee. The very clothes I have on my body I bought in Memphis, Tennessee, I can assure you. I didn't get in this race and suddenly go to downtown Memphis for the first time. I will understand what's happening down here in Shelby County and what we need to do to move this city forward."
OK, that's some serious pandering. But is it enough to placate Memphis, which suffers from a nasty inferiority complex due to the fact that it's a really awful place where no one wants to live? McWherter will have to do better if he wants to top Zach Wamp. Wamp is the king of pandering to Memphis. At his recent sit-down with the Memphis Flyer, he promised—take a deep breath—to give the University of Memphis its own governing board; to make all state legislators spend a long weekend in Memphis to show each and every one of them “why Memhis matters;” to appoint a commissioner of economic development from Memphis, and to personally spend more time in Memphis than anywhere else in the world.
More from the campaign trail:
Haslam tells the Jackson Sun he's "conservative enough." ... "We need to solve our problems; don't fight over the stupid stuff."
At a "teleforum," Ramsey talks about how much he loves Jesus. He says he carries a little cross in his pocket. "Before I give a speech, before I do anything, I kind of reach down in my pocket and rub that a little bit to remind you that God is in charge."
In Memphis, Wamp hacks away at Haslam. From Haslam's TV ads, voters have learned "he likes chocolate pie," Wamp scoffs, "but there has been little on substance. I think frankly that his support may be a mile wide but it could be an inch deep. We'll find out on August the fifth."
In the Metro Pulse, Frank Cagle laps up Haslam's chocolate pie ad: "In this gubernatorial election year, Bill Haslam appears to me to be winning the likability sweepstakes."
Update: The Haslam campaign says their guy didn't say what he was quoted as saying in the Jackson Sun, and the newspaper now has changed the online version to this:
Haslam also said his opponents in the Republican primary have spent too much time trying to prove their conservatism and pointing out one another's bipartisan tendencies and not enough time talking about the issues and what they would change. Other Republican candidates include U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
"I believe smaller government is better. I think closer to home-grown government is better. I unashamedly call myself a conservative. This primary seems to be about saying 'I'm more Republican than he is.'"