Former Gov. Phil Bredesen shares insight into political past with newest “now that you ask…” conversation

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen shares insight into political ...

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen shares insight into political past with newest “now that you ask…” conversation

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has done it all.

Tuesday night, Bredesen spoke at the most recent “now that you ask…” conversation series hosted by Tom Ingram.

Lipscomb’s Shamblin Theatre was full of attentive students and community members listening to Bredesen talk about his early life and career.

During his term as governor, Bredesen tackled education, finance and health care in Tennessee, establishing large financial reserves, a statewide Pre-K program and a children’s health insurance program.

Bredesen was also mayor of Nashville from 1991 to 1999, during which he recruited the NFL Tennessee Titans and the NHL Nashville Predators.

However, before Bredesen accomplished those tasks, he started out on a track quite far away from politics.

“I wanted to be a forest ranger,” Bredesen said. “In high school, I had no interest in politics at all. But when JFK became president, I realized that politics was something that good people could do, and make it good.”

Bredesen then recalled his interests shifting from forest ranger, to geology, to physics.

“When Sputnik was launched, I thought it was a sign that I should go into the sciences,” Bredesen said. “The hard sciences are a good field to go into.”

Bredesen got into Harvard College “almost on a whim,” where he studied physics.

“Growing up near Cornell University and Columbia,  I always thought I’d go to one of those colleges, but I applied late to Harvard and ended up getting in,” Bredesen said.

When Bredesen finally became involved in the political world, the losses seemed more than the wins at the beginning.

“There were a lot of losses, but I learned a lot about the mechanics of running for office,” Bredesen said. “When I started in politics, I wanted to be an actor, not a bystander. I knew I wanted to change something in the world.

“The most gratifying thing about politics is being able to do something in society and in the community.”

Besides politics, geology and science, Bredesen’s interests also branch out towards several other areas. The former governor is also a painter, hunter, outdoorsman and licensed pilot.

Photo credit: Erin Turner

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