Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s decision to support the Kavanaugh nomination has been described as a political tactic, and some Democratic campaign staffers apparently agree.
A hidden-camera video posted Thursday showed several young campaign hands assuring an undercover Project Veritas investigator that the former governor would toe the Democratic line if elected, despite his statement last week backing the Supreme Court nomination of then-Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.
“It’s really close and we’re losing by a point or two. So he thinks that like by saying this, he’s appealing to more moderate Republicans and he’ll get more of them to vote for us,” said a woman identified as campaign staffer Maria Amalla.
Asked if Mr. Bredesen would actually vote for the Supreme Court nominee, a man identified as campaign field worker Will Stewart said, “Oh, he wouldn’t.”
“But he’s saying he would,” said Mr. Stewart on the hidden-camera video. “I don’t know if that makes it worse or better. No, it makes it better.”
Tennessee Democrats swung back with a statement blasting “hyper-partisan” Project Veritas, saying that the video revealed “nothing” and that the party was “examining legal options relative to this latest ruse by Project Veritas.”
“This fake volunteer used secret video recording equipment to capture uninformed and speculative comments made last weekend by college students and youth organizers that were upset by Governor Bredesen’s statement that he would have voted for the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” said Mark Brown, spokesman for Tennessee Victory 2018.
He said the campaign workers on the video were affiliated not with the Bredesen campaign but with Tennessee Victory 2018, a project of the Tennessee Democratic Party, which is working to elect Mr. Bredesen.
“If harassing college students and youth organizers is the best that [PV president] James O’Keefe and his fake volunteer can do in Tennessee, then the Koch Brothers should demand their money back,” said Mr. Brown.
On the video, Ms. Amalla characterized the governor’s decision to back the Kavanaugh nomination as a “political move” intended to shore up voter support.
“Because it’s like a political move and so he’s trying to make up those points,” she said.
She cited a recent CBS poll showing Mr. Bredesen trailing Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn by eight points in a state where 47 percent of voters wanted to see Judge Kavanaugh on the bench. He was confirmed Saturday by the Senate on a 50-48 vote, with just one Democrat in favor.
“He thought that like coming out in support, that it would get more Republicans on his side,” Ms. Amalla said. “He wasn’t doing as well in the rural parts. And so what he’s banking on is for people who are like Democrats and stuff to still come out and vote.”
Ms. Blackburn slammed Mr. Bredesen’s endorsement as a “ploy,” while the Democrat has insisted on the campaign trail that he will be an independent voice for Tennessee, not Senate Minority Leader “Chuck Schumer’s lapdog.”
“I don’t even support him [Schumer],” said Mr. Bredesen in a recent campaign ad. “Nobody’s going to tell me how to vote.”
On the video, Mr. Stewart characterized the candidate’s moderate tone as a play for votes, saying, “Oh, yeah, he hates Trump.”
“Between you and me, once Phil actually gets into the Senate, he’ll be a good Democrat,” said Mr. Stewart.
Asked if the voters of Tennessee were “that ignorant,” he replied, “Yeah.”
A campaign staffer identified as Delaney Brown said she hoped Mr. Bredesen’s decision to back the nominee paid off, given that he “forfeit[ed] a lot of moral high ground.”
“I know, I’m going to be pissed off if it doesn’t pay off,” she said. “If we lose, I’m going to be so mad.”
Project Veritas, which typically targets liberal organizations and figures, has been accused in the past of deceptively editing its undercover videos, which the group has denied.
Mr. Brown concluded, “We hope Jimmy and his fake volunteer at least got to enjoy some Nashville hot chicken during their ham-handed visit to the Volunteer State.”