During Cumberland University Debate, Bredesen Pledges Not To Support Senate Democratic Leadership | Nashville Public Radio

During Cumberland University Debate, Bredesen Pledges Not To Support Senate Democratic Leadership

Sep 25, 2018

Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen pledged that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, he is not going to support the top Democrat.

His remarks were made during an often feisty debate Tuesday night at Cumberland University.

The debate focused on some local and national issues, such as the opioid crisis and gun rights, but one of the big themes was New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Bredesen said he is not comfortable with the current leadership in the Senate, and he said he will not be supporting Schumer for majority leader if Democrats were to take over.

"They are not doing the job," Bredesen said. "We need to get new leadership, and I can tell you right now that if I’m elected, and when I’m elected and go to Washington, I am not going to be voting for Chuck Schumer.”

Democrats see the Tennessee race as one of a few contests they need to win in order take control of the Senate. If they do, Bredesen said he will be independent of his party.

But Republican Marsha Blackburn repeatedly argued that Bredesen is partisan. She continued that line of attack in an interview after the debate.

“He could’ve run as a Republican; he could’ve run as an independent. He chose not to do that. He chose to run as a Democrat," Blackburn told reporters. "If he were to go to Washington, D.C., he would go as a Democrat. Chuck Schumer would be his boss.”

The debate included questions on Affordable Care Act, health care and legalizing marijuna 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. 

The debate was the first of two between the two candidates. They'll face each other again next month in Knoxville.