Thereafter he stood on the 3rd St. side of the CJC with Gibbons, and, while he couldn’t at this point claim the endorsement of Gibbons, his former opponent for the GOP nomination, Wamp did what he did to lay the groundwork for such serendipity, including a virtual declaration of honorary home-boy status.
“Memphis matters,” Wamp declared. “It matters to the future of Tennessee. Just because I didn’t grow up in Memphis doesn’t mean I won’t be fully committed to Memphis.” The Chattanooga congressman expressed a wish for “a long overdue Memphis Renaissance” and pledged himself to that end.
He promised that, if nominated, the first place he would come would be Memphis. Ditto with his initial destination as soon as he got inaugurated as governor. And he vowed, too, that, once installed as governor, he would devote “most of my time” to the concerns of Shelby County.
“As Memphis goes, so goes Tennessee,” Wamp said.
Asked if an endorsement by Gibbons might be in the cards, Wamp said, “There’s 96 days to go [until the gubernatorial primary], plenty of time for that. I hope that that’s the case later on. It’s for him to consider. I didn’t ask for that yet.”
Meanwhile, he praised Gibbons’ now folded campaign as something that had made him “a better candidate” himself and promised to support Gibbons’ goals. He said he considered Operation Safe Community to be a model. “I’ll continue to try to win General Gibbons’ support,” he said.
Wamp said he was still committed to full support for the Med, but hedged modestly when asked if he intended to sign a specific pledge sought of all gubernatorial candidates by the Shelby County Commission. The commission wants all candidates to commit themselves to rout all federal funds generated by indigent care at the Med back to the Med itself.
“I still haven’t seen it,” Wamp said of the pledge, but indicated he was still committed to sign it.
Wamp expressed support of the burgeoning state sovereignty movement but unequivocally distanced himself from the rhetoric of “states’ rights,” which, he said, smacked of “segregation and going backwards.” He said his recent vow to resist federal health-care legislation by meeting the federal government “at the state line” was metaphorical, not literal.
“I am a fighter. I’m a nice guy and a compassionate guy, but I also from time to time will stand up and fight,” said Wamp, who characterized the new federal health-care act as a “billion-dollar mandate that we can’t afford” and something that was worth fighting. “Fighting may be in a court of law, fighting may be at the ballot box,” he said.
Wamp is battling Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam and state Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blouneville for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The winner of that contest will oppose Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, a Democrat, in the fall.