Gov. Phil Bredesen, whose superdelegate primary plan has put him on the national stage, appears to have changed the way he’s approaching his own superdelegate vote.
With Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama likely unable to win the Democratic Party’s nomination outright through pledged delegates alone, the votes of superdelegates will determine the Democrat who opposes Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.
And the uncommitted Bredesen appears to have reconsidered how he’d go about casting his vote.
After initially saying in February that he would be voting for whom he thought would be the best president — regardless of how the majority of Democratic voters came down — Bredesen now says he will consider the public’s voice.
The governor says he’s not certain though on whose will to follow — Tennesseans’ or the national tide.
“I think it’s a combination of what’s my responsibility to the people who voted for me, what’s my responsibility as a member of the Democratic Party, who do I think would be best for the country?” Bredesen told reporters Thursday. “I have to say I think that in some way respecting the will of the people, I’m not sure how that comes out, has got to be an important piece of the thing.”
Superdelegates are Democratic elected officials and party leaders. Bredesen, as a Democratic governor, is one of Tennessee’s 17 superdelegates.
Bredesen could claim either candidate has been backed by a majority of Democrats.
In Tennessee, Clinton easily defeated Obama in the state’s Democratic primary in February.
But on the national stage, Obama leads Clinton in pledged delegates as well as the popular vote.
“Well, if I’m supposed to follow the will of the people, exactly which will am I supposed to follow there?” Bredesen asked rhetorically.
The decision for Bredesen and other superdelegates comes as the Democratic Party is facing a lengthy primary process with no clear outcome immediately present.
Going against the majority will of Democratic voters, Bredesen said, would be a “nightmare” and have long-term negative implications for the Democratic Party.
To try to resolve the Democrats’ conundrum in a fair way prior to the August convention, Bredesen proposed in an op-ed to the New York Times last week the idea of a superdelegate primary.
Under Bredesen’s plan, all of the superdelegates would gather in June and vote on the record for whom they thought should be the party’s nominee.
That would, in theory, decide the nominating contest then and end the “divisive” Democratic primary, Bredesen said, not letting a summer of “brutal and unnecessary warfare” drag out until the late August convention.
Since unveiling that proposal, Bredesen has agreed to several interviews on national television and radio, including appearing on Fox News and CNN four times each.
Earlier this week, he trekked to Washington to pitch his plan, telling Politico.com of his proposal over “rockfish and red wine” and sitting for interviews with National Public Radio, C-Span and The Washington Times.
Despite that national exposure, Bredesen said he’s not seeking the limelight to cast a bid for a vice presidential spot on the eventual Democratic ticket.
“I hope it is clear that I am not in any fashion seeking that,” Bredesen said.
Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been cool to his plan, Bredesen said.