It’s fun to slap Haslam, but even that grows a little boring after a while. So then Wamp and Ramsey turned on each other in a testy exchange that saw Wamp accusing Ramsey of lying about his record in Congress. “I did not vote for the Bridge to Nowhere,” a frustrated Wamp insisted in one memorable moment. Here are excerpts:
Wamp: Ron and I have agreed on a whole lot of things in this campaign. He also has an 18-year record of votes that I could pick at or votes that he could pick at and we could pick at those things. But the truth is we do have two conservative alternatives. I would say respectfully that it would be very helpful for our state for someone to step in with a vision. And that’s difference between me and the other candidates is a specific 20/20 vision laid out 10 pages long on my website … The vision thing separates us and it would good for an executive to step into the role and bring this very strong legislature to an agenda to make Tennessee all that it can be.
Ramsey: I’m proud of my record of 18 years in the state Senate. We could pick at those. But I’m going to tell ya last night I mentioned that Zach in Congress voted for TARP. I don’t see how you do that and say I’m a conservative. Then he tried to justify it on the air last night. He voted for the Bridge to Nowhere. They vote for money over and over again to expand stuff.
Ramsey: No, I’m not going to stop. You’re the king of earmarks.
Wamp: That’s a lie. That’s a lie.
Ramsey: You’re saying you didn’t vote for TARP?
Wamp: I did not vote for the Bridge to Nowhere. … I voted for the Sarah Palin alternative that said thanks but no thanks, put that money in the state. I did not vote for the Bridge to Nowhere.
Ramsey: Well, that’s not the information that I have. You did vote for TARP and you did vote for cash for clunkers?
Wamp: Let me explain that. The first two times it came up I voted no because it was borrowed money. The third time was simply are we going to finish it for the final 30 days with stimulus money that had already been dedicated for wasteful projects that we were pulling back in just to finish it. That fact needs to be set straight as well. … I voted against all eight bailouts. I voted yes on TARP the final time and here’s why. The stock market fell 800 points. We lost a trillion dollars in one day. We were at the cliff and let me just say, all but $89 billion of that money has been repaid. Wall Street reported last week that it’s all going to be repaid. It is coming back. …
Mike McWherter came up only once in the debate when Wamp decided to punch the Democrat for failing to support a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform.
“Don’t back off,” Wamp said. “This is where Mike McWherter, by the way, and he is the target here because he cannot be governor of Tennessee. He says, ‘oh you should just get with it. It’s already been signed into law. Basically just roll over you know and give in.’ Nooooo. We’re red-blooded Tennesseans. We don’t have to accept this.”
On Haslam, his two rivals said:
Wamp: How disappointed the business leadership was in Knoxville when his very first year before they cut a dime of spending, 15 percent tax increase. And then frankly, he blamed his predecessor, you know, that there wasn’t a large enough debt fund, reserve fund. That’s not the model we need from the governor. Actually next year, he’s going to inherit the difficult situation. Is he going to come up then as the new governor with some lame excuse, well, I just didn’t have any choice. Because that’s what he did as the mayor of Knoxville. That is not a conservative. A conservative does not give Al Gore money for president. Explain that one to me. And then he said, oh well, I give to all the Republican candidates. Al Gore is not a Republican.
Ramsey: What bothers me in politics is somebody trying to be somebody that they’re not. And then trying to spend $8 million so far on trying to sell the people that they’re somebody they’re not. That’s the reason he’s not put this race away. Let me assure you, if I had $8 million, I would have had this race put away by now. But people haven’t bought into that because it’s not the real deal. Now, when you try to say I’m not pro-Second Amendment. He joined Bloomberg. I’m anti-tax. He raised taxes. He can’t even talk on the life issue. When he tries to talk, he gets all flustered on that. What does he say on his message on television? … All we know there is that he knows how to stock shelves, he steals a piece of pie every once in a while and he knows some lady named Kempie in Memphis.