Monday, September 27, 2010

'I've Got Haslam Right Where I Want Him,' McWherter Declares

Posted By on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Not since Bill Haslam blamed Pilot Corp.’s price gouging on “honest mistakes” has anyone told such a big whopper in the governor’s race. Only 35 days away from what looks like one of the most humiliating defeats in Tennessee electoral history, Mike McWherter told reporters today that he’s got Haslam right where he wants him.

In addition, McWherter said it’s a clever strategic decision by his campaign not to run TV ads, and it’s not bothering him at all that Democrats are running to Haslam’s campaign like rats deserting a sinking ship. McWherter talked with reporters after giving a snoozer of a speech to the Nashville Rotary Club. Here are excerpts from the Q&A:

Q: You’re down in the polls right now. Last week, the Haslam campaign announced a list of Democrats and independents who are backing him. How do you assess where this campaign is now and what do you do to overtake him?

McWherter: Well, I’m right where I want to be right now if you want to know the truth about it. You know, the only poll that really matters is the one that is taken during early voting and election day and we’ve had a strategy planned for we’re going to approach early election because early election has changed the complexion of actually what the vote count is in this state. There aren’t more people voting in Tennessee but they are voting earlier, and so it changes your campaign strategy. You know Bill Haslam has literally been spending money talking about pie and Ned McWherter for weeks now. You’ll see our media campaign begin to ramp up, and I believe we’ve got sufficient now to make sure that we can get our message out.

Q: So how soon do you envision going up? Next week?

McWherter: That’s my secret. You’ll see it when we come on TV.

Q: Up until now you’ve done very little on TV.

McWherter: That’s right. We’ve marshaled our resources getting ready for early voting. That’s a strategic move on our part.

Q: And you don’t think that you’ve waited too long?

McWherter: No, I tell ya I really don’t. I’ve noticed in my father’s own campaigns the people really start to pay attention around the first of October, and it’s kind of frustrating talking to them about an election that’s 90 days away. They just don’t want to focus on it. But when it starts coming down to the final wire, they really begin to focus and they start listening to what the candidates have to say. And I’m not saying that they’re not listening before. But they really begin to make up their minds and that’s the time that you need to be getting your message out.

Q: Surely, you’re a bit disappointed at that list of Democrats for Haslam?

Oh, it’s 105 people. No, it didn’t really bother me.

Q: Why?

McWherter: There were a lot of people there that I didn’t know, frankly.

Q: Your radio ad right now appeals to conservatives and is running on conservative talk radio as I understand. Will that be part of the theme of your TV campaign as well?

Well, I think it’s very clear that whatever party you’re in you have to reach out to independent voters and voters of the other party. I want to make very clear what the contrast is between Bill Haslam and myself.

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