Live from music row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist Dr. Carol Swain to discuss the speculation that she may run for Congress in the district of Mayor John Cooper’s brother Jim Cooper.
During the segment, Swain discussed her concern for Republican loyalty and her motivation if she were to run for Congress. “I would have to know God was in it. It’s not about winning, it’s about being able to hold people accountable sometimes.”
Leahy: And we are joined in studio by my good friend and all-star panelist Carol Swain. Good morning Carol.
Swain: Good morning how are you?
Leahy: I am great. I am great. It’s always fun to have Carol in the studio. I called you yesterday just to let you know that I get a lot of comments. And people really like to hear you on this program.
Swain: Well, people are very kind. I love the people of not just the people of Nashville but a lot of us are working together and I want to be the voice of the people. I feel like part of the call of my life is to hold politicians accountable but also fight for our country and for our values.
Leahy: I have a big question for you.
Leahy: So, you know you ran for Mayor and did well. Got to 23% of the vote, 24% of the vote somewhere in there. And in a city where you know, a lot of conservatives have given up on Davidson County.
They went for Hillary by 60% and it seems with all the people coming in from Chicago, California, etc. They’re trying to transform Nashville into the cities and the states from which they are fleeing because they don’t work.
Swain: They are. I don’t know how that works. But it seems to me that’s what a lot of people do. But at the same time, I know some New Yorkers, I know people from California, I know people that came to Nashville expecting conservatism and they are shocked at what they’re finding. And some of them are becoming politically active.
Leahy: So here’s the big question.
Leahy: I saw this floating around on Facebook. Some people are encouraging you Carol to consider running for Congress, running for the Republican nomination for Congress in 2020 to challenge the incumbent Jim Cooper, brother of Mayor John Cooper. When people ask you if you would consider that, are you considering it?
Swain: I can tell you that as a professor at Vanderbilt and Princeton I taught campaigns and elections. So I know a lot about what goes into running a successful campaign. But of course, after I ran for office twice, (Leahy chuckles) now I probably well I mean I got a graduate education in real life.
Leahy: Yes. There were some things probably in the actuality of running for office. As the candidate, which you learned is probably different than the academic studies say.
Swain: What I did not teach about or know enough about was the world of campaign consultants. And these are people that go from campaign to campaign. So they are people that are basically seeking a job. They get paid whether or not you win or lose. And that’s the world you operate in.
And one of the things I came away with was that I had some committed volunteers. They loved me, they understood what the issues were and I found that putting together a campaign staff where the people are just totally committed to the cause is more difficult than it looks.
Leahy: It’s very difficult. The other thing about running for office Carol and I think you consider this. When you run for office, a, you don’t make money running for office. You have to have money set aside for your own living expenses. But also it seems to me to be just exhausting.
Swain: Well it can be. I enjoy people.
Leahy: Well, that’s a plus.
Swain: I know. (Laughs)
Leahy: That’s a plus because you know there are some politicians Carol, and I know this is very true about you. She is beaming and smiling right now because she’s thinking about the interactions she had with people on the campaign trail running for Mayor.
Swain: You’re reading my mind. I still go up to mothers with their children and chat with families and now that I’m not running for office I know that they don’t think that I’m doing it just because I’m a candidate. But I just love people and I wanted to serve them. I was never running for Mayor for myself. I was running because people came to me and implored me to run.
Leahy: That’s true. (Laughter) That is very true Carol. She’s laughing. (Leahy and Swain laugh)
Swain: I haven’t answered your question.
Leahy: The primary election would be in August and then the general election would be in November. It’s an intriguing idea to me but I don’t know if it’s fair to you because it’s so challenging and just so much hard work and you got to raise money. It’s a district that’s maybe never been represented by a Republican in Congress and is becoming increasingly far left. The population is.
Swain: Well let me tell you this. You know in the last election I did not have solid republican support that many republicans endorsed John Cooper and they worked for him and worked against me.
Leahy: And this was even before the runoff?
Swain: Yeah. And so I still ended up with 23% of the vote and that was because I went all over the city and I spoke with union leaders. I met with bus drivers and school teachers and various people. And my support in the minority communities increased. But I think at the same time that I was out there trying to build a coalition that ensured that I lost more conservative support.
Because I’m black and I’m out there talking to minorities and I believe there is a mindset among Republicans, some Republicans. I believe that was difficult. And of course, my visit to the Islamic Center did not go over well.
Leahy: Did not go over well.
Swain: Well, with some people. But you know something? I believe I did the right thing. I had to let the Muslims in Nashville know – there’s over 50,000 – and I had to let the Muslims–
Leahy: Is that how many Muslims are in Nashville?
Swain: Over 50,000.
Leahy: And the population 600-and-some-odd thousand?
Swain: And here’s the issue here. The Democrats go all the time. What kind of signal does that send if only Democrats show up at places like that? So it was important to go there. As a Christian, how are you going to reach people and show them the love of Christ if you’re so afraid of them that you can’t go near them?
Leahy: So back to the big question. And that’s a nice deflection. See what I like about it is I think conservatives in Davidson County need a champion. They need somebody they can rally around and you’ve shown I think that you do obtain conservative support. Would you consider Carol, running for Congress against Jim Cooper in 2020?
Swain: Only if God spoke to me very clearly and a thousand people maxed out. Because it’s going to take me and some dollars to run.
Leahy: It’s going to take well over a million dollars.
Swain: No, more than one million dollars. I mean the Coopers’ have proven they have deep pockets. John Cooper was able to put 2 million into his campaign. Mayor Briley raised over a million dollars. And I raised $375,000. I did what I did with $375,000 dollars.
Leahy: I mean $375,000 you would easily in my view win the republican primary. But…
Swain: I don’t know that. Because I don’t think Republicans can be trusted when it comes to loyalty. I know like CeCe Howell and many other people who have run for office and have been told by Republicans not to run against Jim Cooper because we like him. So at one time, he was a blue dog democrat and now he’s a rabid leftist.
Leahy: Well does a blue dog Democrat…
Swain: They don’t exist anymore.
Leahy: I totally agree. I don’t think there’s any. In the ’90s Bill Clinton would have called himself a blue dog.
Swain: Democrats used to have common sense. I used to be one.
Leahy: Again, this is a theme I completely agree with. There’s no common sense among Democrats. None!
Swain: They don’t love our country. I’m not talking about everyone. But I’m saying the leaders out there don’t represent even their base. But right now they show no love or affection for our country. Or our values and principles.
Leahy: So the answer is you would consider it but you’ve got to raise a lot of money and you need a lot of people to commit to it.
Swain: And I would have to know God was in it. It’s not about winning, it’s about being able to hold people accountable sometimes.
Listen to the full second hour:
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