NASHVILLE - Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey attacked Republican gubernatorial rival Bill Haslam's conservative credentials Tuesday, saying, "Tennesseans are smart enough to see through his fluffy commercials and realize he's not the 'real deal' at all."
The lieutenant governor charged in his news release that Mr. Haslam "counts liberals" such as former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., as "supporters" and also noted Mr. Haslam has contributed to them in the past.
He also said Mr. Haslam "helped lead one of the country's most radical gun groups - Bloomberg's Mayors Against Guns - until 2008 when it became politically expedient to withdraw."
And on yet another note, Mr. Ramsey, who is state Senate speaker, criticized an "endorsement" of Mr. Haslam by the liberal Knoxville political blog knoxviews.com, saying, "When liberal rags are publicly choosing Mayor Haslam as their best hope for August 5th, alarm bells should be ringing for our state's conservative voters."
Haslam spokesman David Smith said "Senator Ramsey doesn't like our ad because it points out that Mayor Haslam is the only candidate with executive experience. If that wasn't embarrassing enough for the state senator, giving credence to an obscure liberal blog that is clearly making fun of Republicans represents a new low."
A tagline on the endorsement said "Elections Government Humor State 2010 elections."
According to Congressional Quarterly's MoneyLine, Mr. Haslam contributed $1,000 to Democrat Gore's 1988 presidential campaign. Democrat Cooper received a $1,000 contribution from Mr. Haslam in 2002, according to CampaignMoney.com.
Asked about assertions that both Democrats back Mr. Haslam, Ramsey spokeswoman Rachel Tayor said via e-mail, "We know he (Haslam) has been on their team ... Haslam has endorsed them. That's all we meant."
Mr. Haslam did belong and later resigned in 2009 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group to combat gun crime. Mr. Haslam maintained the group veered away from an original focus on illegal gun use by criminals.