Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bredesen to host civility forum

Gov. Phil Bredesen thinks political candidates sling too much mud these days, and he intends to do something about it.

Bredesen and First Lady Andrea Conte, along with former Sen. Howard Baker, will host a forum on civility in politics on Oct. 6, the day before the Belmont debate. It’s a topic Bredesen addressed in a similar forum in January.

“I’ve always been a believer that people who run for office, whether they have D’s or R’s after their names, are all Americans,” Bredesen said. “I understand it’s a contact sport, and you throw some punches, but I think that many times it has gotten way out of hand and very, very personal.”

Panelists at the forum will include Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman; Bill Nichols, Politico managing editor; former Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.), president of the Association of American Publishers; and Mark Whitaker, senior vice president and Washington bureau chief for NBC News.

Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw — perhaps best known for his question on the death penalty that helped sink Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential race — will moderate the forum.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be at 1 p.m. at Belmont’s Troutt Theater.

As for the debate itself, Bredesen said he hoped Barack Obama would come out swinging — but at his opponent’s policies.

“I hope to see specifics of his own, explaining the way he wants to conduct the presidency,” Bredesen said. I would love to see hard-hitting criticisms of Senator McCain’s decisions. I would not want to see criticisms of Senator McCain as an individual.”

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