Blackburn says Tennesseans are 'ready to move on from the Mueller report'

Blackburn says Tennesseans are 'ready to move on from the Mueller report'

April 25th, 2019 by Mark Pace in Local Regional News

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, right, hugs former Sen. Bob Corker after he introduced her during a Chattanooga Rotary Club luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Sen. Blackburn said during the speech that Tennesseeans are ready to move on from the Mueller investigation.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn believes Tennesseans want to move past the Mueller report and pledged Thursday to focus her term on the fight between freedom and what she called socialist policies.

The freshman Republican senator told the Rotary Club of Chattanooga that Tennesseans don't want to see guaranteed wages, an open border, guaranteed health care, free education or expanded environmental policies such as the Green New Deal, but she promised to focus on issues she believes are important for her constituents: ensuring Tennessee remains a Right to Work state, keeping it a state with no income tax and ridding the country of regulations put in place by the Obama administration.

"The focus is going to drill down to are you tilting toward freedom or are you tilting toward socialism," she said. "That seems to be the definition of the political debate and where it is right now. I will tell you this, Tennesseans are ready to move on from the Mueller report."

After the speech, Blackburn took questions from the audience members, one of whom raised concerns about the report's findings and asked about how the Senate would ensure the 2020 election wasn't impacted by Russian interference. Blackburn said the issue is one the Senate is taking seriously, looking at more stringent cybersecurity legislation, but she said Russia has been trying to meddle in U.S. elections for decades.

She repeatedly pointed to the cost and length of the report — 22 months, $30 million — and said Tennesseans were interested in the report but would rather focus on other issues that directly impact them.

"What more do you expect to learn when you have a special counsel who has done that deep a dive with dozens of agents into an issue and has produced a report?" she asked.

Former Sen. Bob Corker introduced Blackburn at the event and was asked after about his thoughts regarding the report. He agreed that Tennesseans were probably ready to move on but added there were key new details.

"I thought the more revealing parts of the Mueller report were really just the inner workings of the White House, and I was very aware that those kind of things were taking place," Corker said.

The former Chattanooga mayor and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been critical of Trump, worrying the president threatens to weaken the nation's standing around the globe with his divisive rhetoric, actions and tweets. He also famously tweeted in 2017 the White House had become an "adult day care center."

Corker left office in January and was replaced by Blackburn. The two aren't close, he said, and hadn't spoken much, but he was very complimentary of the new senator, who spent 16 years in the U.S. House.

"She made a name for herself," he said. "She became known as a fearless and tough leader."

The two followed last week's Rotary luncheon hosted by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee is expected to speak May 30.

The 350-member club is one of the 25 largest in the world. The service organization is dedicated to providing humanitarian services and advancing peace.

The Chattanooga chapter does projects like reading to school children and water projects in the the Dominican Republic. It also hosts weekly luncheons, each with a guest speaker.

"We try to get interesting speakers every week," Rotary Club of Chattanooga president Keith Sanford, the president and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium, said. "It keeps the leaders of the community informed on what's going on."

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.