Democratic 3rd Congressional District candidate John Wolfe on Tuesday repeatedly linked his GOP opponent, Chuck Fleischmann, to the tea party movement during a speech at the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club.
"I'm running against the guy who's in the tea party," Wolfe said, attacking his opponents views on social security and other issues. Messages sent to Fleischmann and his campaign Tuesday were not returned.
Fleischmann in the past has said he favors some privatization of Medicare and Social Security.
"Some of his followers even think its unconstitutional," Wolfe said of Fleischmann's stance on Social Security. "It's worked for a long time. It gives us stability. It's cost efficient and it's worked."
He also said his opponent will not commit to a debate.
Wolfe told the Democratic audience they should be proud because he said the party did not cause the current economic slump.
Wolfe spent much of the evening contrasting himself with his opponent.
"In some senses I'm conservative and Fleischmann is a 19th-century liberal run amok," Wolfe said.
Wolfe later explained that he thinks Fleischmann's beliefs are "individualism" and said "19th-century liberalism was individualism."
Dr. Richard Wilson, a professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said linking Fleischmann to the tea party movement is "in the interest of any Democratic candidate." He said he thought Fleischmann was the least linked to the tea party of all the 3rd Congressional District primary candidates, saying he does not know how successful Wolfe's message will be.
"Although the tea party seems popular because they're getting so much publicity, I think there remains a large number of voters who are skeptical of a group as noisy as the tea party," Wilson said.
He said the heavily Republican-leaning 3rd District is "the biggest limit on [Wolfe's] candidacy."
Contact Dan Whisenhunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DWhisenhunt