August 05, 2004

Tennessee Then & Now

Then

National convention delegate Marilyn Robinson hails from Tennessee's 5th Congressional District. She volunteered with the Gore campaign in 2000, and offered her perspective on how it happened that Bush won Gore's home state.

Robinson said that the Republican party had pledged to "work 24/7 to take Tennessee" to embarass Gore in the 2000 election. High powered visitors, including Bush and Cheney, were frequent visitors in the state. She said they'd put so much pressure on Gore that he was forced to set up his headquarters there, staffed mainly with young, out of state campaign workers.

Robinson said that while campaign workers are usually young, if only because that's who can afford to work a campaign, the Gore staffers were unfamiliar with Southern culture. She said they didn't handle the state elected officials properly, and neglected to reach out to established figures in Tennessee politics who could have helped them. She said that campaign materials weren't gotten out to local organizations until two weeks before the election, when last minute attempts were made to work with the Tennessee Democratic party.

According to Robinson, Gore himself seemed to think that he'd paid his dues in state politics, not coming home enough to get his story out. His own history as a senator, as well as that of his father, was a familiar local story. But she said, "we had about eighty thousand new transplants that weren't really aware of the Gore legacy" and everything he'd done for his constituency. She said that during his eight years as vice president, he'd been more of a national figure, and no longer loomed so large in his home state.

Robinson knew Gore was the better choice, though. She said of the Clinton/Gore years that "We enjoyed more prosperity during those eight years than I have ever seen, and I'm 49 years old." If Gore had got into office, she said she believed the country could have enjoyed sixteen years of prosperity.

Now

Mary Parker is a practicing attorney, and a delegate from Tennessee's 7th Congressional District. She works with the Kerry campaign doing "whatever they want." In addition to fundraising, she's working to train lawyers in her home state to monitor the election and is involved in the Kerry campaign's religious outreach efforts.

Under an initiative to protect the vote, Parker is recruiting and training lawyers in Tennessee to act as election monitors as well as prepare for any dispute that might arise after election day. Specific goals before the election include making sure the voter registration rolls are properly handled, that everyone who wants to vote is allowed to, and that the election complies with last year's voting act. She said there are teams forming in every state.

Parker said of the campaign's religious outreach that, "We believe that most people who support this ticket are people of faith, and that the religious right can't claim political allegiance from people of faith." Speaking about which issues were important, she said, "People of faith are concerned about 44 million people without health insurance, [and the] 35 million who live in poverty. [They are concerned with] reducing the number of abortions by active programs that have that effect, while all the Republican party does is give lip service to these concerns."

Posted by natasha at August 5, 2004 04:25 PM | Elections | Technorati links |
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