NASHVILLE -- A spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp took issue Tuesday with Democrats who compared his recent statements to the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace's segregationist stances.
"It's a ridiculous comparison," said John Crisp, spokesman for U.S. Rep Wamp's campaign for governor. "Other than that, I don't think we'd want to comment on it."
On Monday, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Rep. Wamp's pledge that he would battle federal incursions into Tennessee policy "at the state line" reminded him of Wallace's rhetoric.
"Part of the reason I'm running for governor is because states are going to need to declare their sovereignty, stick together with other governors to protect freedom in our states and be willing to meet the federal government at the state line whether it's environmental regulations, the speed limit, gun laws, whatever the federal government's doing that's onerous," Rep. Wamp said.
Mr. Forrester accused the congressman of "pandering to the extreme right" and also said his remarks seem like "plain and simple grandstanding and sort of reminiscent to the civil rights battles of George Wallace and others who refused to desegregate public schools, the sort of behavior for a Tennessee governor that would be inexcusable."
Mr. Wamp also said "we need two dozen governors that will stand together and say the 10th Amendment has been run over too long. We're going to protect freedom in our states, and we don't want the federal government running all over us."
The 10th Amendment states the principle of federalism by declaring powers not granted to the federal government or prohibited to states are reserved to the states or the people.
In 1963, then-Alabama Gov. Wallace stood at the door of a University of Alabama building in a symbolic effort to block two black students from enrolling at the school.
U.S. Rep. Wamp's "state line" reference has popped up in several recent stump speeches as he seeks to appeal to conservatives in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
He was quoted by Maryville's The Daily Times as telling attendees at a town hall meeting, sponsored in part by an indoor shooting range, that if President Barack Obama ever issued an executive order "taking up guns" that, as governor, "we will meet him at the state line."
Another GOP gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told attendees at a "tea party" tax protest in Kingsport on Monday that "the 10th means the 10th Amendment," the Kingsport Times-News reported.
Other Republicans in the GOP primary are Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.