On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talkradio 98.3 and WLAC 1510 weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill talked with Larry Woods about last nights Tennessee Senate debate and how Phil Bredesen and Marsha Blackburn made some hits and misses in both candidates performance.
Steve Gill: And welcome back in. The debate, first debate took place last night sponsored by The Tennessean, sponsored by Channel 5, League of Women Voters, the National Public Television, you know all those conservative outlets that made sure the panel was properly composed. Larry Woods with us to us help breakdown the debate, Democrat Party activist, lawyer, and longtime friend, and media colleague of mine. We’re going to be on Channel 5 plus their political show at 9 o’clock Friday together we’ll break this down at that time. We get a little head start here. When you looked at the politics last night to me Larry one of the key moments was when Phil Bredesen declared that he would not vote for Chuck Schumer for majority leader, um, do you believe him?
Larry Woods: Oh yes, Bredesen’s the kind of guy he tells it like he sees it and feels it, just like later in the debate he said look, ‘Obama was mad at me.’ And you and I both remember Bredesen was considered for appointment by Obama to his cabinet and Bredesen came out with an interview with the New York Times saying, ‘Well of course I’d be honored but Obama has got to change his mind on these six things, about healthcare cause he’s wrong on all of them.’ Bredesen really speaks what he says, he really does.
Gill: That would be the Obama care act that Bredesen was defending last night as well. Right? The same one he was critical of when he got in trouble with Obama. Well what happens when he votes against Schumer is he going to have like an office in Fairfax instead of on Capitol Hill? I mean, you’re not going to be a player you’re not going have any influence.
Woods: You and I know how that works. He’ll probably have an office out in Northern Virginia someplace if Schumer controls him and he doesn’t vote for him. But frankly, you know, from my point of view, the Democrats, that’s what I want. I want somebody who’s going to vote for Tennessee and vote for what they believe is a good policy. And Schumer disagrees, too bad Schumer. He shouldn’t be scared of Schumer.
Gill: Do you see anything in Phil Bredesen’s past, integrity, spine, that indicates he’s going to be tougher and more capable of standing up to Chuck Schumer and the Democratic crazies. From Spartacus Booker, to Pretend Indian Elizabeth Warren, and Diane Feinstein? Joe Manchin can’t do it. Do you think Phil Bredesen’s tougher than Joe Manchin?
Woods: Absolutely. Listen. When Bredesen was Governor and as you know balanced the budget all eight years..
Gill: Wait wait, wait, you have to balance the budget, it’s — wait wait wait — it’s a requirement in the law that you balance the budget you have to do it that’s nothing to proclaim.
Woods: But, he didn’t do it with funny numbers, he didn’t do it with math that didn’t you know, add up. He actually went in he cut healthcare and he cut healthcare over the protests, the bitter protests of people like me of every democrat who’s fought for Obamacare etc., it wasn’t Obamacare when he was in office but the national healthcare. He was excoriated, tortured by the liberal Democrats in the state when he cut healthcare. And Bredesen would very calmly would say, every time I’d raise it with him and others, “We have to cut healthcare, the money’s just not there.”
Gill: It was his second choice though…
Woods: He really is that kind of person. I mean his pledge about look I’m gonna go up there and vote with Trump when he’s right and going to vote against him when he’s wrong. That is really Bredesen through and through I’ve known the guy for thirty years and that is really his conscious speaking.
Gill: Now throwing three hundred thousand people off their…
Woods: He’s going to vote the way he sees it.
Gill: Throwing three hundred thousand people off their healthcare did cause some consternation among you and some of the others. But it was his second choice he first wanted to raise taxes and that when he realized with Republicans in control of the House having already seen that battle over a state income tax that there was no possibility there he realized he had to cut rather than raise taxes. But his first inclination was typically Democrat Larry, to raise taxes.
Woods: Well here’s what he didn’t do. Marsha Blackburn last night said in the debate said, ‘I’m for balanced budget, I’m for cutting taxes, I’m for reducing the debt, and oh by the way, I want to spend more money on rural hospitals and tele- marketing and digital medicine and emergency rooms free standing. And more money for the military.’ Typical political talk. I mean all of us know you can’t do all of those things. You have to make choices and again I disagree with the choice Governor Bredesen made about healthcare, but he made it work. And he was upfront and honest about it. So again, that’s sort of his theme that he’s running on for the Senate is it going to work? I don’t know. I haven’t seen his internal poll. I mean you would know better than anybody because you get to see the internals on your bullet. Um, I guess what it’s a dead heat realistically right now?
Gill: The challenge for Blackburn and the challenge for Bredesen is that this is a red state, Tennessee just in a generic ballot, a Republican candidate for Senate will win by ten or twelve points and if Marsha gets the Republicans than she wins. Phil Bredesen in my view, Larry, has to make this a local election where, ‘I like Phil,’ and that’s not where it’s going because the Democrats, particularly with the Kavanaugh hearings going on, their turning this into a national election and that’s not good for Phil Bredesen.
Woods: I agree with you one hundred percent.
Gill: Then I must be wrong.
Woods: And you know, there are some opportunities there to make it more local or more focused on Bredesen’s theme about how dysfunctional congress is. For example when they got into the Opioid crisis debate, the drug addiction problem and Marsha Blackburn’s reply, her defense on the bill she co-sponsored to partially block the DEA efforts, was look it was an unanimous vote is what Marshal Blackburn’s saying, and I think she’s right about that. And that ought to be in Bredesen’s next hand. And that’s what’s wrong with Congress. They don’t read the bills they vote on. They just, ‘Oh, well everybody says this is good bill okay I’ll go and vote for it.’ If I ran my business that way, if you ran your Tennessee Star that way we’d be out of business next week. I don’t care if it’s a unanimous vote that’s an indictment of ninety percent of the congress that it was unanimous.
Gill: Or it indicates that it really wasn’t that controversial. The DEA and the law enforcement officials have had eighteen months to two years to come out with a report that we’re still waiting for that says, ‘this was a bad idea’ they still can’t identify that allowing more access for legitimate distribution of opioids is a bad idea and that was the real issue. You know, do you let the law enforcement people restrict people who need the opioids getting them from legitimate doctors whether or not that was the right balance and there’s been nothing coming out that shows there wasn’t a right balance.
Woods: Now Steve, next you’re going to be telling me that Lane Kiffin and Dooley were great football coaches.
Gill: I will never go that far. (Laughter) There’s not enough opioids in the world for me to ever say either one of those things.
Woods: (Laughing) Yeah, I agree with you.
Gill: The other problem for Phil, I think from last night’s debate is this issue of the second amendment. You know, he’s touting his A rating from the NRA years and years ago. The current NRA rating based upon his position on restrictions that he wants to impose on guns that go along with Bloomberg and Schumer and the rest of the Democrats in D.C. have given him a D rating from the NRA. Marsha gets an ‘A+.’ That’s an issue that plays big in Tennessee. I know not in your circles but in most of red state Tennessee. Being endorsed by the NRA carries more weight than getting a ‘D’ from the NRA.
Woods: Now politically I agree with you. As a student of politics, I think you’re right. And I think that if Bredesen were in on this conversation right now if he had the time last night, I think he would say about the NRA endorsement or NRA positions the same things he says about President Trump. When the NRA’s right I’m going to vote with them, when I believe they’re wrong I’m going to vote against them. I mean, that’s why he doesn’t get the highest rating from them. And therefore, it’s just like his closing statement and his standard campaign speech. If you want somebody to go up there and be partisan and just vote for party line don’t vote for me, I’m not that guy. And he’s at an age and a status in his life where he’s not going to change.
Gill: But if he’s not going to challenge them by name. I mean again, you’ve got the Maxine Waters, you’ve got the Chuck Schumer’s, you’ve got the Pocahontas’s, you’ve got all these guys…
Woods: Needs to do that…
Gill: But it’s…
Woods: (Inaudible chatter)
Gill: He needs to call them out and condemn them because my problem…
Woods: I like Pocahontas, she’s my candidate.
Gill: (Laughing) But is she going to wear the full headdress at the Thursday hearings and have Cory Booker where the toga? (Laughing)
Woods: I’ve known Senator Elizabeth Warren since college. She’d look great in a Chief’s headdress.
Gill: And she’s a full-on liberal, Larry, that’s why you like her.
Woods: Let me say one minor thing and I don’t mean it as criticism I’m just surprised. I was surprised at how Congressman Blackburn looked last night on television. You know, grey suit jacket, ah, grey top, with a white blouse or shirt. I don’t want to say it was dull, but it was awfully close to that. And she’s a very attractive person. And honestly part of the television performance is appearance. It really surprised me. I was expecting her to come out in red, or, I mean blue would look good on her, but since that’s a Democratic color I guess you can’t do that. You know we men get stuck in dark suits. Not much we can do about it. But I really was surprised at, I don’t know she seemed a little tired to me. And fairness to her if I were campaigning across the state, I’d be tired too.
Gill: And I think he was low energy as well. Again, it’s a grind, and he’s at an age, when it is probably, he’s low energy. I have to tell you, man, I may be wrong today because we’ve agreed on virtually everything. When I watched Marsha’s appearance it was the same thing. And it was on my TV it was more of a light tan suit, on TV or in the newspaper it looks like it’s a dark grey suit, but it was a light tan with a cream top and it washed her out. You know, Phil Bredesen has notoriously always worn brown suits and they couldn’t get him to stop. Last night, he’s in a navy suit with a red and blue striped tie. So, I mean he’s clearly catering to that visual appeal across the aisle.
Woods: He’s listening to people like me, so you know he’s in trouble.
Gill: Well then, I’m the last guy in the world that any woman should listen to for fashion advice, but I do think the color washed her out a bit and I have to admit I was a little surprised at that as well. Larry Woods we’ll catch up with you on Friday on Channel 5 plus with some more political commentary and we’ll get you back soon.
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