NASHVILLE - Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron Ramsey today went on the offense against GOP rivals Zach Wamp and Bill Haslam in a new ad airing on broadcast television.
It is Lt. Gov. Ramsey's first television ad criticizing U.S. Rep. Wamp, R-Tenn., and Knoxville Mayor Haslam.
"Three candidates for governor," the 30-second spot says. "Congressman Wamp, he's from Washington. Voted for the Wall Street bailout. Voted to raise the national debt. Backed earmark after earmark including the 'bridge to nowhere.'"
Of Mr. Haslam, the spot says "as mayor he raised taxes. Haslam once backed Al Gore for president. Al Gore! And he helped run a radical anti-gun group."
The ad then touts Lt. Gov. Ramsey, the state Senate speaker, saying "he stood up to both parties to stop higher taxes. Ron Ramsey. He's the conservative for governor."
Ramsey spokeswoman Rachel Taylor called Mr. Wamp the "the poster child for why Americans are angry with Washington."
She said Mr. Haslam "is a mayor who raises taxes as his solution to budget woes and who supports liberals like Al Gore and liberal causes like New York Mayor Bloomberg's gun restrictions."
Haslam spokesman David Smith said "desperate times call for desperate measures, and the state senator (Ramsey) has taken a page from the Washington congressman in purposefully misleading voters."
The city of Knoxville, he said, "has the lowest property tax rates in more than 50 years while Ramsey backed the largest tax increase in state history. Bill Haslam never led an anti-gun group, and he never supported an Al Gore run. In 1988, he gave a fellow Tennessean $1,000 to retire some campaign debt after his candidacy ended."
Wamp spokesman Sam Edelen charged the Ramsey ad is "full of falsehoods and distortions about Zach. Sen. Ramsey twists a vote that Zach made with every other member of the Tennessee delegation, including Republicans Bill Jenkins, Jimmy Duncan, Marsha Blackburn, Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander."
Mr. Edelen said "some D.C. staffer stuck the 'Bridge to Nowhere' funding in that bill without any members knowing about it. As soon as Zach found out, he voted three separate times to strip the 'Bridge to Nowhere' project from the appropriations bill to help kill it for good."
Accusing Lt. Gov. Ramsey of "trying to distract attention from his own tax and spend record in Nashville," Mr. Edelen charged the Senate speaker of having "voted for the largest tax increase in Tennessee history while he watched state government triple in size."
The ad is running in the Nashville, Memphis, Jackson and Tri-Cities markets but not in Chattanooga or Knoxville.