Phil Bredesen seems at home in the woods. Wearing a flannel and a shooting jacket three weeks ago, he blasts orange clay pigeons out of the sky and into black dust clouds with an over and under shotgun before turning to the camera to talk about the Second Amendment in one ad.
Phil Bredesen also seems comfortable in the city, raising money from wealthy liberals.
Wearing a sharp black suit on Wednesday, he arrived in Manhattan to glad hand at a fundraiser hosted by Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor famous for banning oversized soft drinks and dropping millions of dollars in support of candidates who oppose the Second Amendment.
The two faces of the Democrat running for Senate in Tennessee raise an interesting question asked by New York Times national correspondent Johnathan Martin:
Why is someone who is pro-gun *and* can self-fund leaving Tenn less than a month before e day to raise money with a political figure who is synonymous w gun control?https://t.co/cXJCAxqGjh— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) October 10, 2018
One possible answer is that Bredesen was never “pro-gun” to begin with. Shortly after the ad bragging about his “A-rating from the NRA,” the chairman of that organization’s political action committee, Chris Cox, called on Bredesen to take it down. Bredesen might have had an “A-rating” while governor. But since then he has called for universal background checks, and the organization has dropped his grade to a D.
The more cynical answer is that Bredesen is just trying to minimize his losses. The Democrat has loaned his campaign more than $3.5 million, only to watch his poll numbers drop in recent weeks against Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn. He might be palling around with Bloomberg at this late point because he'd prefer (as many self-funding candidates do) for his campaign to be able to pay himself back when the race ends.
[Also read: Taylor Swift: Marsha Blackburn's voting record 'appalls and terrifies me']
Otherwise, an appearance with Bloomberg seems bound to backfire. It gives Bredesen no political advantage. Gun grabbers aren’t popular in the deep red and rural state (Trump won there by 26 points). So it might have less to do with politics than it does with money.