U.S. Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn, gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee and 1st Congressional District incumbent Phil Roe each gave their own, distinct closing argument for why voters should choose Republicans during a captivating midterm election that could decide the fate of President Donald Trump’s agenda over the next two years.
Just hours removed from appearing alongside the president at a campaign rally Sunday in Chattanooga, Blackburn hitched her final argument onto Trump and his perceived successes, as she’s done throughout her unyielding campaign.
“In the past 21 months, we’ve been turning this country around: Record low unemployment, economic growth (and) wage increases. You are seeing the U.S. out of the Iran deal. We’ve now got China and North Korea at the negotiating table. We have a president who moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, where it belongs,” Blackburn said.
“We have a president that is securing the southern border and doing something about illegal immigration, and it took an outsider that is conservative to start the wheels rolling and get it done.”
Talking to the press just before embarking on a trip across the state one last time, Blackburn said she believes Tennesseans have responded “beautifully” to her message.
“It’s what they agree with, more constitutional judges, less taxation, removing regulation, securing the southern border and making certain we protect our sovereignty. They want somebody to defend the Second Amendment,” Blackburn said.
When asked about outside money, Blackburn jumped on the opportunity to criticize her Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen for being U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “No. 1 recruit.”
“What you’ve got is Chuck Schumer said Bredesen was his No. 1 recruit, and if it took $50 million to win this race, they’d spend it. And they’re proving they’re willing to spend a whole lot of money, but we’re going to win the race,” Blackburn said.
While it’s true more than $56 million in outside money has been spent in Tennessee on the U.S. Senate race, more than $9 million in outside money has been spent in support of Blackburn, while $20 million has been spent to oppose Bredesen.
Introducing Blackburn at Monday’s event was Roe, who argued the Senate race is about party loyalty.
“This is not about ‘Phil Bredesen was a good governor’ and so forth. This is about running this country on conservative principles,” Roe told the audience.
“I serve on a committee with (Democratic West Virginia U.S. Sen.) Joe Manchin right now. He’s a good guy, but when he came up to vote for tax cuts, he voted no. When he came up to vote for health care, he voted no. So that tells me all I need to know. I may like him a lot ... I like to go out to dinner with him, but he’s not served the people of West Virginia very well. Marsha Blackburn will do that. she has a proven conservative record. I know exactly how she’s going to vote on these very important issues for East Tennessee.”
After the event, Roe explained his reasoning as, “if you don’t vote for your party, you might as well be with the other party.”
“There’s pressure put on people to support their party. I get it some, everybody does. If you’re not going to vote for your party, you might as well be with the other party,” Roe said. “That’s the problem. It’s not that Phil (Bredesen) is a bad guy. He’s not. I know him, but he is going to vote just like Senator Manchin did and every other Democrat except one did on (U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett) Kavanaugh.”
As the closing speaker, Lee offered a much-less partisan, positive tone, just as he’s done throughout his primary and general election campaigns.
“I’m very grateful to many of the people in this room, and this part of the state that was so incredibly supportive for me and (his wife) Maria,” Lee said.
“We’re thrilled, we’re excited (and) I can’t tell you how much it means to us. I’ve said this before, but a governor recognizes that this is a government of the people, and that the people across the state, when we work together, that’s how we’re going to take Tennessee from where she is today to a place where she absolutely leads in America. I’d be honored to serve as the governor of this state.”