NASHVILLE - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen hits the air today with a new TV spot highlighting the former Tennessee governor's record on jobs and economic development while pledging to work to do the same at the national level.
"Too many people in Tennessee work hard but can't get ahead - and haven't been able to for years now," Bredesen says in the 30-second spot as images of people at work flash by on the screen. "We can fix this."
In the ad, Bredesen, who served as governor from 2003-2011, is shown in a manufacturing facility as he describes working across party lines to bring Volkswagen and the Nissan headquarters to Tennessee. "We added over 200,000 new jobs, good-paying jobs," he says in the ad. "We were named the most competitive state in America."
Looking into the camera, Bredesen says, "Tennessee needs to show Washington how to do this. I'm applying for the job."
Bredesen is expected to face Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in November.
During Bredesen's tenure, Volkswagen announced it would building its only U.S. auto assembly plant in Chattanooga, a move that has generated thousands of direct jobs at the facility as well as spin-off jobs with VW suppliers.
Bredesen's campaign says while he was governor, Tennessee saw some $34 billion in new business investments as he pushed, among other things, to expand Tennessee's automotive industry.
That came after he pushed to revamp the state's incentive structure to attract new business.
The incentives also helped Nissan decide to locate its Americas headquarters in Franklin. While Bredesen was governor in 2008, Site Selection magazine named Tennessee the most competitive state for economic development.
But the Bredesen ad is drawing fire from Republicans.
"When Phil Bredesen was governor, unemployment jumped from 5.1 percent to 9.5 percent. He is backtracking to change his weak record, but Tennesseans won't be fooled by misleading ads," said Tennessee Republican Party Communications Director Candice Dawkins. "They know Bredesen will just be a shill for Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, and Marsha Blackburn is the only one who will represent their shared values in the Senate."
Bredesen spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen said in response that Bredesen as governor "steered the state through the Great Recession while continuing to focus on economic development, including the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga."
She said the former governor "is proud to have helped lay the foundation for Tennessee's current economic success, but he still believes we've got a lot of work left to do at the local, state and national levels. That's why he's applying to be the next U.S. senator from Tennessee."
The Bredesen campaign is also running a spot, titled "Ought to Do," on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and other digital platforms.
It highlights what the campaign says is Bredesen's bipartisan view of the role of a U.S. senator. That includes working across party lines to accomplish things.
Meanwhile, Blackburn is expected to receive a boost Tuesday when President Donald Trump comes to Nashville, where he will host a fundraiser for the Brentwood congressman's Senate bid. Tickets are $2,700 for couples and $10,800 to have their photo taken with the president.
Those wishing to attend a roundtable event will pay $44,300. The money is designated for the Blackburn Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee comprised of Blackburn's campaign PAC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Trump will later hold a rally in Nashville.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.