NOT INVOLVED IN CLARK CAMPAIGN, SAYS GOVERNOR
In Memphis to deliver his first two speeches of the New Year -- focusing on TennCare, Childrens Services, and job creation -- Governor Phil Bredesen took time out to dissociate himself from the efforts by three former key aides to boost the presidential campaign of retired General Wesley Clark.
It is coincidence, said the governor, when asked about the high-profile involvement of Stuart Brunson, Byron Trauger, and Johnny Hays in the Clark campaign on the eve of Tennessees forthcoming February 10th primary. While acknowledging that it would be difficult to find three political operatives more closely involved with himself than the three, Bredesen insisted, I am making it clear that I have no involvement in any of the presidential campaigns and no intention of getting involved..
Bredesen press aide Lydia Lenker would add afterward, All three of them were in the Gore  campaign as well, and theyre going a different direction than he is. The former vice president has endorsed the presidential candidacy of ex-Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
Asked about his attitude toward Dean, toward whom many members of the states Democratic elite remain cool, Bredesen responded, Frankly, I havent seen much from any of these guys yet that relates directly to Tennessee. Though both he and Lenker conceded that the Clark campaign had actively courted his support, the governor also noted that he had heard frequently from the Dean campaign. Those folks certainly know how to use the phone, he deadpanned.
While in Memphis Tuesday , Bredesen addressed a Pink Palace luncheon sponsored by mPact, a local youth organization dedicated to community involvement; spent the afternoon touring the citys bio-tech infrastructure; and spoke to a Chamber of Commerce banquet at the Park Vista as part of the Chambers Frontline Politics: 101 series.
In both of his speeches, the governor recapitulated the problems experienced by TennCare and the Department of Childrens Services, promising to rein in the ridiculous projected costs of the former and taking responsibility for not properly overseeing the latter during most of his first year in office.