The men running for the Tennessee Republican nomination for Governor don’t seem particularly interested in discussing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s recent remarks that freedom of religion might not apply to Islam because, maybe, it’s a cult. The campaign of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, the frontrunner in the contest, offered only a terse response to a question about Ramsey’s quote from the Tennessean this morning. Ramsey’s remarks have drawn fire from Tennessee Muslims, but so far his fellow Republicans have let the matter lie.
“The mayor’s faith is very important to him, and he respects the right of others to practice their faith, so long as they are respectful of the communities in which they live and the laws of the land,” a Haslam spokesperson told the paper.
Rep. Zack Wamp — the man running just ahead of Ramsey in the primary fight, according to polls — didn’t respond to my request for comment on Ramsey’s line at all.
The lone Democrat running for governor, businessman Mike McWherter, was a bit more forthcoming when I asked his campaign about Ramsey’s remark.
“Mike McWherter strongly believes the 1st Amendment applies to all religions.” Shelby White, spokesman for the campaign, told me. “Senator Ron Ramsey should defend the 1st Amendment as strongly as he touts the 2nd and 10th Amendments along the campaign trail.”
McWherter, who’s running behind the GOP field in general election matchups, seems to be hoping that embarrassing/offensive remarks like Ramsey’s, and Wamp’s recent pro-secession talk, could give his campaign a needed boost.
According to the Tennessean’s In Session blog, McWherter’s camp sent “an email to supporters” today focused on the quotes from Wamp and Ramsey. The subject line was a simple one: “Had Enough?”