NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country singer Tim McGraw says he wants to run for office someday in his adopted home state of Tennessee — perhaps for governor or U.S. senator — and he's getting encouragement from a fellow Democrat, former President Clinton.
"I think he's got it," Clinton says of McGraw in an Esquire magazine story that hits newsstands Monday. "The Democrats need candidates whom people can relate to in a personal way, people who understand their lives and their concerns and share their values. And I think that's something Tim can do without even pretending."
McGraw, 38, told the magazine he has no immediate plans to enter politics.
"Maybe in 10 or 15 years when the music has died down," he said.
The magazine reported that McGraw, who has three young daughters with his wife, singer Faith Hill, was recruited a few years ago to run for the U.S. Senate seat that eventually went to Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, but passed because of his children and his singing career.
While running for the Senate remains an option, the Louisiana native seems more interested in the governor's office.
"It's more of a leadership role, and I think that's something that I'd do well," he said. "That doesn't rule out senator; I just think that as governor of a state, especially where I live, there would be a lot more opportunities to make some decisions and change some things."
He identified health care as his top issue, and said one of his main reasons for wanting to enter politics is Clinton, whom he calls "the best president we ever had."
Born in Delhi, La., he grew up as Tim Smith. But at age 12, he learned his father was baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, who had had a brief affair with his mother.
His mom and stepfather divorced when he was in the fourth grade, leaving her to raise him and his two sisters.
"She worked two or three jobs at a time," McGraw told The Associated Press in 2004. "I can remember being 11, 12, 13 years old and getting up at 12 o'clock at night and my mom sitting at the kitchen table with the bills spread out everywhere and not even knowing I was there with her head down crying. And then the next day the VCR being gone. It's stuff you grow up with, but you learn a lot from that."
He went to Northeastern Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship and started singing and playing guitar. He dropped out in 1989 and moved to Nashville, where he landed a recording contract with Curb Records.
McGraw has sold more than 30 million albums and compiled a long list of hits that includes "Indian Outlaw," "Where the Green Grass Grows," "Red Ragtop" and "Live Like You Were Dying." He's also branched into acting; he had a supporting role in 2004's "Friday Night Lights" and has a lead role in the upcoming film "Flicka," an update of a popular 1943 movie.