Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter, second right, addresses the audience during a gubernatorial debate at Belmont University on Monday, July 12, 2010 in Nashville, Tenn. From left are Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Knoxville Republican Mayor Bill Haslam; McWherter; and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville. (AP Photo/The Tennessean, George Walker IV)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Basil Marceaux said Thursday he's pleased with the national attention he's been getting for his Republican gubernatorial bid in Tennessee, even if the coverage has largely mocked the perennial candidate's appearance and positions.
"I'm Basil Marceaux.com," the 59-year-old entrepreneur from Soddy-Daisy says at the start of a rambling one-minute candidate statement broadcast on Nashville's WSMV-TV that quickly became in Internet hit.
Marceaux's video has since been featured on shows ranging from Chris Matthews' "Hardball" on MSNBC to Comedy Central's "Colbert Report."
"People always vote the candidate they feel they could have a beer with," quipped Stephen Colbert. "And it looks like he had several before that statement."
Marceaux said he knows he sounded discombobulated in the video, but notes that he had to whittle down his prepared six-minute statement and that he was distracted by producers constantly reminding him how much time he had left.
Marceaux, a former Marine, said he does not drink alcohol, and that his speech is sometimes hard to understand because he only has three teeth. In the end, he said, the issues are more important than his appearance.
"It's not about how I talk, or how my cowlick sits up on my hair, or anything like that," he said. "It's about doing something good for the right reason."
Marceaux's campaign platform includes eliminating handgun carry permit requirements, and instead imposing fines on anyone who doesn't have a firearm. He also wants to make traffic stops illegal and enforce a ban on U.S. flags with gold fringe.
Among several other bids, Marceaux has run twice to oppose state Sen. Andy Berke, a Democrat from Chattanooga. At an event in 2008 he explained to Berke why he ran.
"He came up to me and told me that I seemed to be doing a good job but that he was going to run against me anyway," Berke said. "He said he wasn't going to win, that he was doing it purely for name recognition to run for governor.
"I did not understand then how he savvy he was," Berke said.
Marceaux said the jokes about his video don't bother him, especially because of the publicity they have given to his long-shot campaign.
"If I knew it was that easy, I would have made one a long time ago," he said. "I've been fighting for a long time to become somebody important, like a mayor or a governor.
"I run for anything where I can be in charge."
Marceaux said he's realistic about his slim chances of winning the nomination over three well-funded GOP candidates, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp.
"I've been doing this for a while and in my book it's not always about winning," he said. "I'm happy when I lose. I think it's fun. I meet a lot of people, and my message is loud and clear."