Blackburn, Bredesen trade blows in first U.S. Senate debate

Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn speak at the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at Cumberland University Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Lebanon, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

LEBANON, Tenn. - Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen clashed repeatedly here Tuesday night during their first televised U.S. Senate debate in a pivotal Tennessee contest rated as a toss up.

Areas where the Brentwood Congress member Blackburn and Bredesen, a former governor, disagreed included the focus of President Donald Trump's tax cuts, how the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court should be handled, addressing the U.S. deficit and the opioid epidemic.

Among their few points of agreement: unhappiness over Trump's handling of tariffs, although Blackburn voiced hope the president's strategy would ultimately work.

From her opening statement until the end of the one-hour debate held here at Cumberland University, Blackburn aggressively went after Bredesen on issues. And she repeatedly attacked his assertions that he would bring to Washington the same pragmatic independent-thinking style that he used as governor from 2003 to 2011.

She