The main entrée at the regular monthly RWOP luncheon consisted of presentations by two candidates — George Flinn of Memphis and Ron Kirkland of Jackson, both MD’s, both boasting business expertise as well, both trying to supplant farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher of Crockett County, the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 8th congressional district.
Both doctors oppose the current health-care plan being offered by President Obama and the congressional Democrats. Both condemned “frivolous” lawsuits as a major cause of high health-care costs.
Both think, as Flinn, who now serves as a Shelby County commissioner, put it, that “we’re on the wrong road, and we’re gong to have to change this road, or all we’ll have left is the change in our pockets.” Both wish, as Kirkland put it, to “heal” America.
Further, both described themselves, in almost identical language, as pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage.
Each is going to have a hard time distinguishing himself from the other—since their differences are almost entirely rhetorical and presentational. And, even there, their styles are similar, with each striving for folksiness and punchlines.
Kirkland may have gained a modest edge on the latter score Wednesday with his quip, “Somewhere there’s a Mister Pelosi.” On the other hand, that reference to Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ majority leader in the House of Representatives might have been riskily ambivalent before a mainly female audience. A third Republican candidate, long-shot Charlotte Bergman of Memphis, an African-American challenger in the 9th congressional district, clearly resonated with RWOP members on the gender front.
On the financial ledger, Flinn — a patent-holding radiologist who also maintains a broadcast empire — is known to have deep pockets and can literally spend as much as he wants to on the 8th Distract race. But Kirkland is no slouch, either, touting the $365,000 he raised in the first month of his candidacy — a figure roughly comparable to what Fincher had raised last year in his first month of candidacy.
After their formal presentations, and after lunch, Flinn and Kirkland held forth in a Q and A session. (Bergman, whose talking points had been standard-issue conservative, had left after lunch and did not take part.)
Early in his formal remarks, Flinn had jested, “Two doctors will never give you the same opinion.” But the fact was, the opinions and prescriptions offered by the two physician candidates on Wednesday — were reasonably similar. That could change as each develops a treatment plan for the campaign.