"It's just me and Obama." That's 9th District congressman Steve Cohen on the subject of his involvements in this fall's general election campaigns. The subject came up because of an appearance by Cohen at a weekend fundraiser for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander at the home of University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari.
Cohen cautioned that his appearance at the fundraiser shouldn't be misconstrued. "Coach Cal is a good friend of mine. He's 'Mr. Memphis, as far as I'm concerned. So when he asked me to come by as a courtesy, I said I would." The congressman noted also that he had appeared with Alexander at a joint press conference at The Med earlier Friday and that the fundraiser had occurred shortly thereafter.
At the press conference, Cohen and Alexander had discussed joint efforts to secure federal help in securing reimbursements for expenses incurred by The Med in treating Medicaid patients from Mississippi and Arkansas each year. By joint acknowledgement, the two have worked c loosely on this and other matters in Congress, including overcoming resistance by the Democratic leadership to President Bush's appointment of the Rev. William Graves to the TVA Board this year.
But Cohen said he would take no role in the Senate race, in which Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus, is opposed by Nashville lawyer Bob Tuke, the Democratic nominee. "I did appear with Tuke on a common ballot during the primary, and I always support Democrats for office," said Cohen, who stressed, however, that he is confining his personal efforts to his own reelection effort and to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Over the weekend, Cohen and 5th District U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, who was Obama's state chairman for this year's Tennessee presidential primary, held a joint press availability and issued a press release on the theme of what they said was lobbyist domination in the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.