Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen told reporters in Nashville Friday that he felt an obligation to "step out" at the end of the primary season in June so as to expedite a decision by Democratic super-delegates on committing to a presidential nominee. Bredesen's statement came two days after 8th District congressman John Tanner publicly pledged his support to Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
Bredesen had garnered considerable national attention last month when he floated an idea for a "super-delegate primary" to resolve the current standoff between the two remaining Democratic contenders for the presidency, Illinois senator Barack Obama and New York senator Clinton.
On Friday, the governor put it this way: "You know, my point, my issue there is, there's 300-odd super-delegates out there at the moment who are uncommitted. I think hoping that that many cats will round themselves up into a corral come June is a nice hope, but I'm sure we'll want to have a Plan B, and what I've been trying to do is talk about the need for a Plan B, and, if it works out, great, but, if it doesn't, I think we need to have some way to bring this thing to a conclusion and not carry on to the convention."
Bredesen had been asked to respond to Tanner's public avowal of support for Clinton this week in the wake of her 10-point victory over Obama in the Pennsylvania primary. The 8th District congressman had previously been uncommitted.
"I certainly feel like I'd like to wait until the primaries are over," Bredesen said. "To the extent to which I can exercise some influence in bringing it to a conclusion, which I've certainly been doing more of the last few weeks than previously, I think it's very difficult to do that from a position of a committed super-delegate. So that's another reason for me to sort of stay uncommitted at this point. But I certainly think that, come June, I have an obligation, along with, I hope, other super-delegates to step out and do it."
Bredesen is widely believed to be tilting toward Senator Clinton, and he has acknowledged in the past that most of his advisors lean that way.
Democratic super-delegates complement the delegates pledged to specific presidential candidates in state primary elections. The super-delegates, made up of Democratic public officials and other long-standing party activists, are empowered to use their own discretion in casting votes at this summer's forthcoming Democratic convention in Denver. They serve as a sort of court of last resort in determining a nominee.
Benedictions from the pulpit bestow an aura of righteousness except, of course, when the pastor or minister is a disreputable kook whose endorsement should be an embarrassment.
In recent weeks, both Barack Obama and John McCain have suffered exactly this kind of indignity, under very different circumstances.