By Michael Davis
Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker does not plan to participate in a series of five “town hall” forums proposed by Republican U.S. Senate rival Ed Bryant, Mr. Corker’s campaign manager said Tuesday.
“We’re not going to be a part of what Ed Bryant has laid out and instead are going to continue to participate in serious media-sponsored events,” Ben Mitchell said.
The Bryant campaign proposed the forums Monday, and conservative Nashville radio talk show host Steve Gill has agreed to host the first one, according to a Bryant campaign news release. Fellow GOP primary candidate Van Hilleary has agreed to participate in that event, according to a news release from his campaign.
Mr. Bryant in a news release said the events “will allow us to go beyond the constraints of 30-second radio and TV ads and make ourselves available to answer serious and legitimate questions about our records from Tennesseans.”
Mr. Mitchell said, “As a practice, we do not participate in debates where the time, place, format and subject is dictated by another candidate. However we have and will continue to be a part of debates initiated by neutral organizations or media outlets.”
The Bryant and Hilleary campaigns and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the past few days have criticized Mr. Corker for recent television and radio advertisements. The rival GOP campaigns and the Democratic committee said the ads distort Mr. Corker’s fiscal record as mayor of Chattanooga.
But Mr. Mitchell said “our campaign advertisements are 100 percent factual.”
Mr. Bryant, of Jackson, Tenn., and Mr. Hilleary, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., are former U.S. House members running against Mr. Corker in the Aug. 3 Republican U.S. Senate primary. They are the three high-profile Republicans seeking the seat now held by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who is not running for re-election.
The winner of the GOP primary is expected to face U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., in the Nov. 7 general election.
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