Blackburn: 'I’m going to focus on what I have done, and I’m going to focus on what I can do for the people of this state. That’s what they want to hear.'

Hank Hayes • Sep 6, 2018 at 8:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Tennessee U.S. Senate Republican nominee Marsha Blackburn focused on the merits of her candidacy Wednesday and did not talk about her Democrat opponent — former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen — while meeting with members of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press editorial boards.

Blackburn, a congressman in a general election battle with Bredesen for the seat occupied by retiring Republican Bob Corker, spent the day in Northeast Tennessee doing a “Lunch and Learn” event at Eastman and meeting with East Tennessee State University President Brian Nolan in addition to Ballad Health Executive Chairman, President and CEO Alan Levine.

Blackburn addressed these questions:

Phil Bredesen is using his gubernatorial service as a selling point in his campaign. Anything you want to say about that?

“I’m going to focus on what I have done, and I’m going to focus on what I can do for the people of this state. That’s what they want to hear. People in Tennessee remember the state income tax battle. They know I led that fight against a state income tax. That turned out to be a very good thing for our state. It’s one of the reasons we are one of the best states in the country for doing business. … (State lawmakers) amended the state constitution. We’ll never have a state income tax. … When I went to Congress, I made one promise — I’m going to work to restore the ability of Tennesseans to deduct the sales tax they pay every year from their federal income tax filing.”

Is there anything you want to say about the Americans For Prosperity ad attacking Phil Bredesen on taxes?

“We don’t have anything to do with outside group ads. It’s illegal.”

Phil Bredesen will need Republican votes to win this seat. How are you going to keep them in the fold?

“We are working hard to earn every single vote to talk about the record of accomplishment we have had, the bipartisan record of accomplishment we have built. What Tennesseans are looking for in their next U.S. senator. They are pretty specific all across the state. They want to have a conservative in the U.S. Senate. They want to make certain that there is going to be a U.S. senator to vote for and support constitutionalist judges who will abide by the rule of law, who will not legislate from the bench. … They want someone who will support building the wall and securing the southern border and ending sanctuary city policies. … Tennesseans want someone who will support the Trump tax cuts. These are working in Tennessee.”

Why do Tennesseans want the Affordable Care Act (ACA) off the books?

“It’s driven up the cost of insurance 176 percent in Tennessee. … It’s the requirements that are put in place for an ACA-compliant plan that has driven up the cost … the mandates that are embodied in the ACA compliant plans. … Families have the right to purchase an insurance product that is going to meet their needs and is going to be at a price they can afford.”

Do you hear anything from Tennesseans about stagnating wages?

“One of the things we know helps with wage increases is to see a more robust marketplace for employees. This is something we’re seeing across the state is wages are beginning to rise. … It is promising to see these tax cuts working and wages beginning to rise.”