A video posted online Wednesday shows GOP candidate Scottie Mayfield saying he must get elected to Congress before he elaborates on what he wants to do there.
"Until you get on a committee, it's really hard to get too focused," he told the College Republicans at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "Quite honestly, I've got a file in my file cabinet that's 'When I Get There.' I haven't really focused on that because I've got to get there first."
Mayfield was responding to a student's question about "two or three things" he'd like to accomplish in Washington.
A McMinn County dairy executive, Mayfield is challenging U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.
The five-minute video, titled "Scottie Mayfield Struggling to Answer Basic Questions," was anonymously uploaded to YouTube.
In it, Mayfield also says, "I hire a CPA that's very good at what he does, and I get to take advantage of pieces of the tax code I'm pretty sure the average person doesn't get to take advantage of. That's the rules, and that's how I play."
Mayfield's campaign website says he wants to "make taxes flatter, fairer and lower" without offering specifics.
Mayfield did not respond to a phone message asking about the "file cabinet" statement and which parts of the tax code benefit him, but Mayfield consultant Tommy Hopper defended the candidate's answers.
"Scottie's not a lawyer or a politician," he said. "You won't find our campaign posting videos of the other candidates on YouTube, or other silly and childish attempts to diminish the other guys."
Tyler Threadgill, a campaign spokesman for Fleischmann, said none of the congressman's supporters attended the meeting.
"I saw the video," he said, "and I think it speaks for itself."
But Weston Wamp, the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp who also is challenging Fleischmann in the primary, would not rule out whether one of his supporters videotaped the event.
A 2009 UT graduate, Wamp said he knows "about half those guys" in the school's College Republicans club. His younger sister, Coty, attends UT law school.
In an interview, Tyler King, president of UT's College Republicans, said he didn't see anyone taping at the meeting, but he noticed Coty Wamp was present.
King said Coty Wamp almost never goes to club meetings, adding that she last attended when Weston Wamp spoke about two months ago.
King said Coty Wamp sat to the left of Mayfield. The picture shows Mayfield's left profile.
"There's no way to know for sure, but it's a pretty small room," said King, a Memphis resident who isn't working for any 3rd District campaign. "I'll just say it's conceivable that it could have been her. And even if it was, it's not illegal. It's a 24/7 news cycle, and being videotaped is part of a campaign."
Weston Wamp said he wasn't sure if his sister attended Mayfield's talk. Either way, he shrugged off the possibility.
"Cameras are part of campaigns now," he said. "I don't know where you have an event where there's not a camera whipped out."
Ron Bhalla also is running in the 3rd District Republican primary, while Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor are vying for the Democratic nod. Matthew Deniston is the lone independent candidate.
The primary is Aug. 2.
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...