Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Bob Corker, announced that she will participate in the September 25 debate hosted by the Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, News Channel 5 (WTVF), Nashville Public Television, and Cumberland University in Lebanon.
But she won’t be at the first of four debates across the state, on Sept. 13 at Rhodes College in Memphis.
“Unfortunately, the Rhodes College debate does not fit our schedule, but we are happy the debate on September 25th at Cumberland University does,” campaign spokesman Abbi Sigler said. “We are looking forward to this debate and others.”
Her opponent, former governor Phil Bredesen, issued a press release critical of the decision.
“The closest debate to Memphis shouldn’t be more than 200 miles away and I hope Congressman Blackburn reconsiders,” Bredesen said in the statement. “Memphians and West Tennesseans deserve attention to their issues just as much as the rest of the state and that is why I intend to be at Rhodes on September 13 and host a forum to share my ideas.”
Bredesen has agreed to participate in four U.S. Senate debates covering East, Middle, and West Tennessee. Blackburn’s announcement about the Cumberland University debate spoke of other meetings with Bredesen, but did not specify which ones.
“There are significant differences between how Phil Bredesen and I will serve Tennesseans in the Senate, and this debate will highlight that contrast,” Blackburn said. “I appreciate the hard work of the event’s organizers and volunteers. I look forward to a substantive discussion about the future of our state and our country as part of our general election debates.”
Additional debates are set for Oct. 1 in Chattanooga and Oct. 10 in Knoxville.
“I want this campaign to be about ideas because that’s what Tennesseans expect from their leaders,”Bredesen said. “I’m applying for the job as U.S. Senator. These debates will give me the opportunity to show how we can take on the tough problems in Washington and work together to get things done.”