published Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Fleischmann, Smith trade swipes on video

by Chris Carroll

A 45-second cell phone video obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press captures Chuck Fleischmann and Robin Smith sniping at each other during a Fourth of July celebration in Collegedale.

The pair, two of 11 Republican candidates gunning to replace Rep. Zach Wamp for the 3rd Congressional District, started arguing onstage before they led the Pledge of Allegiance for a large crowd.

Their feud stemmed from a then-upcoming newspaper story about Mrs. Smith leaving the state Republican Party with a $19,090 bank overdraft, low cash balances and high amounts of obligations at the end of her chairmanship in 2009.

Several anonymous GOP officials confirmed the numbers behind the report.

Smith campaign spokesman Mark Winslow disputed the story’s validity Friday and said the Fleischmann campaign put the news tip on a reporter’s radar.

“Robin knew Chuck was shopping the story around,” he said. “She told him onstage that it was hurting the (Republican) party.”

Mr. Fleischmann said that was untrue.

“If I had all the money in the world in front of me, I could not name the independent sources who spoke with the newspaper,” Mr. Fleischmann said.

The video begins after the Pledge of Allegiance as Mrs. Smith ignores Mr. Fleischmann, instead facing the cell phone camera and verbally slamming Mr. Fleischmann’s political consultant, Chip Saltsman, who was not at the event.

“I will stand on truth every time, Chip Saltsman,” Mrs. Smith says. “Every time.”

On Friday, Mr. Winslow clarified the remark, saying Mrs. Smith was blaming Mr. Saltsman for planting the “financial misconduct” story with the media.

Before joining the Fleischmann campaign, Mr. Saltsman ran for Republican National Committee Chairman in 2009 before dropping out. Mrs. Smith, then the Tennessee GOP chairwoman, did not grant Mr. Saltsman’s request for support during his run, according to Mr. Winslow.

“After she said ‘no,’ Robin got a call from one of Chip’s money people to endorse Chip,” Mr. Winslow said. “The only relationship the guy had with the state party was writing checks, so we knew what that meant. She said it sounded like a threat.”

“Chip needs a win, wants to beat Robin, and Chuck is the fellow bankrolling the operation,” Mr. Winslow said.

Mr. Saltsman declined to comment on his relationship with Mrs. Smith.

Mr. Saltsman managed the 2008 presidential campaign of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has campaigned and advertised for Mr. Fleischmann.

In the video from Collegedale, Mr. Fleischmann circles toward his opponent and denies planting the story about Mrs. Smith.

“You’re threatening to sue when you don’t even know ... I had nothing to do with that,” he says.

As “America the Beautiful” begins to play in the background, Mrs. Smith extends her hand to Mr. Fleischmann.

“I look forward to winning — working with you, buddy,” she says.

This week, Mr. Fleischmann said Mrs. Smith is simply getting desperate.

“She has chosen to be adversarial with some of the other campaigns, including ours,” Mr. Fleischmann said. “She sees the writing on the wall that we’re going to take this race from her and a bunch of Washington insiders and return it to people of the 3rd District of Tennessee. She can’t deal with it.”

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Huckabee returns to support Fleischmann

Article: Huckabee hullabaloo

Article: Huckabee's push for Fleischmann flies into flak

Article: Hopefuls squabble over support

Article: Eagle Forum endorses Robin Smith in Tennessee’s Third Congressional District

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gm1220 said...

People, Open your eyes to Robin Smith! Controversy and division always surrounds her! Where there is smoke there is fire! We don't need her! Please vote anyone but Robin!

Calling all democrats. Vote Republican and vote anyone but Robin! Send her and her Party Boss ways home. She has made a lot of money being party boss, she will do the same in Washington. . . . Stop her!

July 24, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.
Kdbolin said...

Art Rhodes, Robin Smith & Chuck Fleischmann were all there. Robin & Chuck were going at it and Art was trying to get them to cool down. Kinda like a parent trying to get their kids in the back sit to be quiet with a fly-swatter. Folks, we don't need this drama and bickering in Washington D.C.; there is already enough of that there. Vote for Art Rhodes; a true Southern Statesmen!

July 24, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.
MuddyCreek said...

All those years of fussing at my children in the back seat--Wow! I'm a statesman! Well, Mark, uhh, Bart, uhh, Art is really tall! That should count for something. When he is willing to take a bullet to protect and defend . . . until then, I'm still voting for the REAL Bradley Countian, Sheriff Tim Gobble.

July 24, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Robin looks like bar brawler on Rossville Blvd. and Chuck appeared as though he was going to faint. Hilarious!

July 24, 2010 at 7:47 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Robin and Chuck are just children squabbling in a sandbox.

Vote for Van Irion, the Constitutional candidate!

July 24, 2010 at 11:37 p.m.
Kdbolin said...

Barney Fife protected and defended as well! Don't squabble folks; vote for the only person in this race that worked on the Federal Budget the last time our country had a balanced budget (14 years ago). Vote Art Rhodes!

July 24, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
sickofit said...

Sorry, say what you want of Robin but Chuck is a weenie. I would rather have someone with a little fire than a man with no (you can finish the sentence) I want someone to go after Obama, not be his friend.... This is a two horse race district wide and I will not vote for the weakling.

July 25, 2010 at 3:31 a.m.
rightwingnutjob said...

Protecting the president is very honorable.. VERY. I would love to get into fed. law enforcement. But, I'm sorry, this doesn't necessarily mean they are the best qualified to represent 650,000 people in the U.S. Congress. (yes, I know, city council & sheriff)

Art Rhodes has been there, and knows how it works. He has the financial, legal, and practical background necessary to get the job done on day one. It won't take him 4 months to learn his way around D.C. and the capital building.

I don't think people realize how important this is. I mean, Art could tell you, TODAY, exactly what you would have to do to draft a bill. (everything from what type of font to use to what person it needs to be delivered) No other candidate could match this. These are the practicalities of the job that no other candidate has knowledge of; all others are asking for the opportunity to learn on the job. The current state of our nation does not afford us the opportunity to have our representative learn on the job.

When we vote, its like hiring someone. Now what do employers look for? Previous experience in the same field, education qualifications, etc. Art has them all then some!

July 25, 2010 at 11:26 a.m.
RufusTFirefly said...

First, the process for creating an account is amateurish.

My main comment is as follows:

It is refreshing to see two Republicans being honest. Especially in the 3rd district.

No matter which of the two twins win, the 3rd district loses!

But at least the two twins are being honest about the other. At least we will know what kind of misfit the Republicans are sending to Washington.

August 1, 2010 at 12:56 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Robin " Do My Rants and Lies Make Me Look Fat?" Smith and Chuck "That Blond Scares Me" Fleischmann.

Both are qualified for the position of "Outhouse Rat-Catcher" when it becomes available after Littlefield leaves office.

August 1, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
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