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NASHVILLE — Tennessee Republicans have a greeting for Democratic President Barack Obama’s visit to Chattanooga on Tuesday — an ad touting what they say are the state’s strides under GOP leadership.
“Welcome to Chattanooga, Mr. President — welcome to America,” says the ad, which the state Republican Party says it plans to run on local television stations starting today. “We’re succeeding in Tennessee, not because of your liberal policies but in spite of them.”
Over images of Tennessee, including an aerial shot of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, a narrator says the state was fourth in job creation nationwide, in the top five for business and the third “freest,” “thanks to Republican leadership.”
“We’re a right-to-work state relying on the hard work of individuals, not unions,” the narrator continues. “Unlike Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”
Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday at Amazon’s giant distribution center in the Enterprise South industrial park, near the VW plant.
State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, noted the state’s successful recruitment of both Amazon and Volkswagen came from a collaborative effort between then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and local officials, including then-Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, a Republican. The state, county and Chattanooga all put up substantial cash and tax incentives.
Favors said she’s “elated” over Obama’s visit and criticized both the state GOP and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who on Friday put out a mock postcard welcoming Obama to Chattanooga and criticizing him.
“The president has a lot of courage to come to this hostile environment,” Favors said. “But the majority of people are pleased about it.”
She said some of the criticism “gives us a reputation for being a racist state and that’s wrong.” The narration concludes over a shot of downtown Chattanooga with Lookout Mountain in the background.
“Maybe you can learn a thing or two while you’re here, Mr. President. This is what America should look like,” the narrator says.
Party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood wouldn’t say how much Republicans plan to spend on running the ad.
Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese took aim at Republicans Sunday.
“The real record of [Gov.] Bill Haslam and the Republican majority is soaring unemployment, falling workers’ wages and multimillion-dollar state contracts for old business partners and well-connected cronies,” he said. “I doubt the millions of Tennesseans who work multiple jobs and still struggle to get by are impressed by this phony attempt to sell Republicans’ failed top-down agenda.”
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-2550-550.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...