Cohen says he was joking about Blackburn, GOP blasts him for ‘violent remarks’

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate nominee in Tennessee, speaks at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) says he was joking when he said at a recent prayer breakfast he hoped that President Trump would tell Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn to jump off a bridge. Republicans are blasting Cohen for “violent remarks” and a failure to sufficiently apologize. They also criticize Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen, who was in attendance during Cohen’s remarks, for not saying anything about it at the time.

The Huffington Post first reported about the remarks made at the Broadway Baptist Church in Memphis last month:

The big orange president …. He’s going to come down here and he is going to endorse Marsha Blackburn, because Marsha Blackburn, if he says, ‘Jump off the Harahan Bridge,’ she’ll jump off the Harahan Bridge. I wish he’d say that.

The remark was met with laughter.

“It was obviously humor,” Cohen told the Huffington Post.  “I wish her no harm. I hope she doesn’t get the Senate. And I wish she wasn’t a lackey for Trump. But I don’t wish her physical harm.”


The Bredesen campaign said his remarks at the event avoided criticizing the president or Blackburn.

“I really don’t want [this election] to be about my opponent and who’s best and who’s worst or who’s made most mistakes, or things like that,” Bredesen said at the event. “I really want this election to be about ideas, and I want you to ask everyone to vote for the person who they think got the best ideas about how to create opportunity in Tennessee, and create opportunity in the United States of America.”

Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, condemned Cohen’s remarks.

“Marsha Blackburn is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, and a dedicated public servant,” Shipley said in an email “We can disagree on issues of policy and politics, without wishing harm on each other. These violent remarks by Steve Cohen, and his lack of apology, are utterly unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms.”


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