Blackburn and Bredesen hold first of two Senate debates

Here’s a roundup of the press coverage about the first Senate debate between Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen:

The Chattanooga Times Free Press‘ Andy Sher:

Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen clashed repeatedly here Tuesday night during their first televised U.S. Senate debate in a pivotal Tennessee contest rated as a toss up. Areas where the Brentwood Congress member Blackburn and Bredesen, a former governor, disagreed included the focus of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, how the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court should be handled, addressing the U.S. deficit and the opioid epidemic.

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert and Joey Garrison:

In the combative one-hour exchange that was tense from the outset, Blackburn, a conservative Williamson County congressman, went on the offensive early and often against Bredesen, painting him throughout as an ally of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor, framed himself as an independent who would work with Republicans and look beyond partisan bickering to solve issues. Although his jabs were less frequent, he attacked the firebrand Blackburn as embodying the political divisions of Washington.

The Associated Press’ Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi:

Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen quickly promised not to vote for Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as his Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn repeatedly sought to tie the former Tennessee governor to national Democrats in their first debate for U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Blackburn reiterated multiple times that Bredesen’s campaign “is bought and paid for” by Schumer, doubling down later with reporters that Schumer recruited Bredesen to run for the open Senate seat and pointing out that he’s previously donated to and at times has praised Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other leading Democrats. Meanwhile, Bredesen responded he would remain independent should he be elected in the upcoming Nov. 6 election, saying that he wouldn’t go to Washington to be a “political lackey.”

The Daily Memphian’s Sam Stockard:

Bredesen said the nation’s biggest problem is the “overarching issue of how dysfunctional Washington has become,” noting he would not turn his back on a lifetime of being an “independent thinker.” “If I go to Washington, I’m not going to be voting for Chuck Schumer,” Bredesen said for the first time during his initial answer in the debate held at Cumberland University in Lebanon, some 30 miles outside Nashville…. During the debate, Blackburn, a 16-year Republican member of Congress from Brentwood, accused Bredesen repeatedly of being recruited by Schumer to run for the Senate seat opened by Sen. Bob Corker’s decision to step away. “He could have run as an independent or Republican. If he goes to Washington, he will be voting with Chuck Schumer,” Blackburn said. She added, “His campaign is bought and paid for by Chuck Schumer.”

WPLN-FM’s Sergio Martínez-Beltrán:

The debate included questions on Affordable Care Act, health care and legalizing marijuana to solve the opioid crisis. Both candidates were also asked about a policy or law they supported that now they regret. Blackburn, who’s served in the House of Representatives since 2003, said she should have pushed for more spending cuts while in Congress. Bredesen, on the other hand, focused on his push as governor for college readiness. He said he now thinks he should’ve focused on vocational and technical careers, too.

Politco’s James Arkin:

The former governor’s pledge to vote against Schumer is his largest break from the Democratic Party thus far. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is the only other Democratic battleground Senate candidate who has pledged to vote against the party’s leader. The pledge is functionally useless — unlike in the House, where the speaker is chosen by a majority of the chamber in a floor vote, Senate party leaders are chosen by a majority in a private caucus vote. While there might be enough Democratic House candidates to deny Pelosi the 218 votes she needs to become speaker again, there is virtually no chance of Schumer being dethroned by the Democratic Caucus after the election.

NewsChannel5 political analyst Pat Nolan:

Nobody made a big mistake, and nobody came up with an argument that will change minds. I think that those who were for the candidates are still for them, and those who were against them are still against them, and those who are undecided are probably still undecided.

The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs:

Blackburn seemed unable to finish a sentence without linking her opponent to Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama while he tried to separate himself from party politics almost entirely. The hour-long debate at a liberal arts college 30 miles outside Nashville represented a microcosm of the challenges for red state Democrats even in a favorable national political environment. Bredesen tried to tiptoe around divisive issues and avoid strong criticism of Trump. In the midst of the drama surrounding the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh for the supreme court, the Democrat said that the behavior of both parties on Capitol Hill “disgusts me” and declined to take a position on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

23 Responses to Blackburn and Bredesen hold first of two Senate debates

  • MarLE says:

    Chattanooga Times saw repeated clashes? I saw Marsha with her shoes laced up and her game face on and Bredesen looking like he missed a sorely needed nap yesterday. He had no passion about anything including defending himself. Whoever was helping him prepare for this should be fired….Today….right before nap time.

  • Nell Martin says:

    Marsha mentioned so many Democrats and repeatedly said Phil’s campaign was paid for by Chuck that my husband and I can’t tell you what comments she made…..only all the Democrats she called out. Phil made some very good points, especially how he wanted to reach across the party lines. My take away..Marsha….more of the same in DC, fighting and nothing done…Phil …..the promise to work across party lines and the hope something will be done. Phil reminded me of McCain’s commitment.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    First let me say that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the strategy that Marsha used in last night’s debate. If you have read my recent replies to this blog, however, it is understandable that you may have thought so.

    Marsha’s strategy was, of course, brilliantly conceived and competently executed. One of her first salvos consisted of a question as to why, if Governor Moderate was so moderate, did he choose to run as a candidate of the left-wing Democratic Party, when he could have run as an independent or a Republican? WHY INDEED! She scored direct hit after direct hit by hanging Schumer around his “moderate” neck time after time like the albatross that it is to all but the most committed liberal here in Tennessee. When she wasn’t labeling him as Schumer’s candidate she was calling attention to the financial support Gov. Moderate received from and provided to the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party.

    Obviously Bredesen’s navigational equipment was hit sometime early in the engagement because he seemed to meander ineffectually between blaming Marsha for the disfunction in Washington and recalling the good old days of his administration while ignoring Marsha’s clearly discomforting reminders of Bredesen’s connection to the Democratic Party and liberals in general. What was Phil to do? If he answered her he would only be drawing further attention to exactly what his Operation Distraction was designed to avoid i.e. his life-long devotion to the liberal Democratic Party. Instead he ignored her charges when everyone was expecting his reply to them which only made her thrusts all the more effective.

    Congratulations Marsha!!! Thanks to her efforts and well thought out strategy the voters of Tennessee have a much clearer picture of exactly what is at stake in this U. S. Senate election.

  • Silence Dogood says:

    I agree with both of you, MarLE and Nell. But Nell, equating McCain with Bredesen will eliminate most Conservative votes. McCain was a despicable, treacherous, and vindictive opponent of this countries greatness these past 10 years. Just could not get past losing the 2008 Presidential election and blamed the Republican party. And Marsha played to her strengths. She is not a Democrat and consequently will not be a Schumer lackey. Enough said. Bring on the next debate.

    • Donna Locke says:

      I read something about McCain last night in the new Travels With Foxfire book — one of the people profiled criticized McCain’s attaching a rider to a bill in 2014 to turn part of a national forest over to mining companies in a land swap. The area was sacred to and still used by American Indians.

      I didn’t watch this debate. Too often in such things I feel I’m looking at opposing candidates who serve the same masters. That sense is particularly strong when it comes to immigration issues.

      I’m going to vote for Marsha this time, but my days of voting only for Republicans are over.

      • Silence Dogood says:

        I no longer march in step with the Republicans anymore, either, Donna. I voted for both Bob Dole and John McCain, despising myself as I did so. I wanted another Ronald Reagan. Held my nose as I voted for Corker and Alexander. No more. I can now afford to donate to campaigns and I have influence with friends and family members. If a candidate wants my support they better be Conservative or they miss all that help and my vote.

  • Steve Johnson says:

    Marsha’s entire campaign seems to be “Hillary! Obama! Schumer!” She had no answer on how to reduce our multi-trillion $ debt; she was confused over the opioid crisis, claiming fentanyl comes from Mexico (it’s from China); she waffled on Dreamers, wandering off into talking about Kurdish immigrants; her only idea on how to fix health care is to get rid of Obamacare, when what is causing the cost of health insurance to go up is rising drug prices, doctors’ salaries, costs of new treatments and a lack of competition. What struck me is that Bredesen spent a couple of decades building up a successful multi-million $ business and then 16 yrs as mayor and governor, so his answers reflected his experience – how do we pull people together and find a workable solution to a problem. What struck me most about Marsha was how shallow her understanding of the issues seemed to be despite her 16 yrs in Washington. She had zingers that may work on Fox TV, but they weren’t policies that would work and that’s what I think we need, fewer angry talking heads and more working together to solve our problems.

    • MarLE says:

      How to reduce spending….now that would have been a great question to have asked! Simply saying you are against deficit spending tells me nothing. Marsha does not find military spending adequate (we spend 8X what our nearest nuclear competitor spends) and the other line items of SS and Medicare are on auto pilot UNLESS we reduce benefits. So……whose benefits will she promise NOT to cut? The Senate is itching (both Dems and Some repubs ) to means test benefits. Please, someone ask her if she would vote for that b/c these moronic media folks have not bothered.

      • James White says:

        Marsha Says Against deficit spending, but Votes For it.

        • MarLE says:

          She voted against the Omnibus spending bill, didn’t she? one of 90 Repubs who did (incl Desjarlais and Black). But if one of your dpeartures from Trump is Spending then spending decreases…Where? How? If you’ve been up there for 16 yrs you should have specifics to share.

          • James White says:

            Yes, this one (she is running for the Senate) but she has voted for MANY Omnibuses .
            Yep and many debt ceiling increase and MORE and MORE Spending. She talks out of the Right side of her mouth, and pulls the lever to vote more spending with her left hand. She says what you want to hear when she is here in TN, but when in DC she votes like a mindless liberal.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            You betcha! Marsha Blackburn who has a lifetime rating from the premier conservative think-tank in Washington, the Heritage Foundation, of 82% and a lifetime rating from the most powerful economic conservative political action committee, the Club For Growth, of 90% votes like a “mindless liberal” according to James White.

            Please remember readers when reading comments from James White that James is not on the current political spectrum in effect in the United States. Rather he is an eccentric who longs for a pre-1860 United States who usually can’t even vote for candidates of either party but who whiles away his time attacking conservatives like Marsha for not being conservative enough with the result, if it has any result, of weakening their candidacy so that if they lose the victor will be a liberal Democrat who will grow the government even more and move further away even faster from James’ ideal. What a waste of valuable time and effort!

    • Silence Dogood says:

      Steve Johnson I heard the same comment made about Donald Trump. “They” said he really did not understand “the issues” because he was a newcomer. “They” were wrong. And the country is booming!!! Marsha does not have to understand the issues. As a junior Senator she will have little influence anyway. What Marsha needs to do is vote yes on Trumps Judiciary appointments, build the wall, and keep her mouth shut when Trump tweets something that drives liberals crazy. All things Little Bob could not find a way to do.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Mr. Dogood, with an economy of words you have hit the nail squarely on the head by giving reality a loud wake-up call!! I wish I could write like that.

  • jmt252 says:

    Silence Dogood… you’re an idiot.

  • Norma Shirk says:

    Right. Marsha will be a lackey of Trump.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      And Phil was recruited by and receives financial support from Schumer just so he can go to Washington as the Democratic junior senator from Tennessee and be opposed to most everything that Schumer and the Democrats propose. The most “moderate” Democrat in the Senate votes liberal about 81% of the time, but of course Gov. Moderate won’t be a “lackey” of Schumer. Dream on Norma, but I really hope you awake before election day.

      • MarLE says:

        Which of these 2 is more likely to do what they are told b/c they are so desperate for re-election. Wanting to be a career politician in DC is really the key to figuring out who is more vulnerable to being a lackey. In the House, as we all know, with a solid Rep majority, you could be “excused” from casting party-line votes. In the Senate with only 100 noses to be counted and with Party money at stake for re-election it is the one who always has an eye toward the next cycle who will be the lackey.

        • Stuart I. Anderson says:

          I question whether “Who is a lackey”? is really an important question. To me it’s simply that Phil is a life long liberal and understandably a member of the Democratic Party and a financial supporter of liberal Democratic candidates. Marsha is ideologically a conservative and a Republican. It’s only the fact that Phil is trying to portray himself as an ill-defined “moderate” because there’s simply not enough liberals in Tennessee to get him elected that might result in a majority of Tennesseans not getting the Senator that represents their views. Last night Marsha went a long way to combat that possible problem.

  • cjmcd says:

    Bredesen reminds me of an uncertain child looking for his Mother’s support. Blackburn comes across as her own woman who climbed the Washington “tree” through sheer guts and knowledge. The Blackburn naysayers should do some research on her background as a legislator before commenting on her work.

  • June lsndrum says:

    Andy sher. A toss up my eye. Marsha knocked it out of the ball park last nite. Age and Phil being away from politics for so long has made it difficult for him to answer or explain coherently

  • willaim McKamey says:

    Phil Bredesen was an excellent governor and will make the best Senator..More for Tennessee than Blackburn

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