Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Republicans Should Be Ashamed For Absence Of Civility In Race

Bob Corker, Ed Bryant, and Van Hilleary should be ashamed of the kind of campaigns they have ran in this year's Republican primary.

Day after day, their race has been filled with nothing but vile attacks on each other and Congressman Ford.

Now with only days remaining before the primary election, there really is now civility left to lower. They are going after hard now, with no regards.

As the Associated Press reports, this has turned out to be on the nastiest campaigns in Tennessee history:

Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls continue to trade attacks on one another's character with negative television advertisements and news conferences in the final days of the primary.

Van Hilleary called a news conference in Nashville on Monday to criticize rival Bob Corker for a series of attack ads and to call for newspapers to retract their endorsements of Corker.

"He doesn't have a right to run ads devoid of honor and integrity," Hilleary said. "I think he needs to examine how much disrespect that shows for Tennessee voters."

Corker, who made a lunchtime campaign stop in Franklin on Monday, responded that Hilleary and opponent Ed Bryant were launching attacks on his record because "they have no record of achievement to run on." Corker launched two new ads on Monday criticizing Bryant and Hilleary for their attacks on his record.

"We've gone out of our way in this race to be 100 percent truthful," he said.

Meanwhile, Bryant also launched new ads accusing Corker of running false advertisements with "too many lies."

At issue is a Corker advertisement which say Bryant and Hilleary voted to increase their salaries as congressmen in 2000. Corker's campaign has said that a large spending bill Bryant and Hilleary voted for at the end of 2000 amounted to a vote to increase pay.

Instead, their pay went up because of an automatic cost-of-living increase that may be blocked by lawmakers. The spending bill Bryant and Hilleary voted for - the final vote before the pay increase took effect - did not include a measure to block the raise.

Just days after that advertisement was released, Corker's campaign amended it to say the two "voted for a bill that the press said provided a $3,800 pay raise for themselves."

"We felt the ad was very accurate," Corker said, adding that the advertisement was amended after his campaign realized voters might have a hard time understanding its message.

A number of nonpartisan watchdog organizations and newspapers have called the assertions in the Corker ads misleading and Hilleary and Bryant called them a character issue for Corker.

"I think he's sinking like a rocket ship because of his lack of willingness to take these ads down," Hilleary said, later explaining that Corker's campaign "which was on a rocket ship going up when he had ads all to himself is now sinking."

Corker said Hilleary's comments were only missing "Howard Dean's scream," referring to the former presidential candidate's outburst from the night of the 2004 Iowa primary which some analysts said helped seal his defeat in the Democratic primary.

Bryant and Hilleary have also criticized ads claiming Corker controlled spending in Chattanooga while he was mayor, that he is against abortion and that he will fix immigration problems.

Bryant also ran an ad that accused Corker of avoiding paying his own taxes. A report from Annenberg Political Fact Check, a nonpartisan group, said the claims in the Bryant ad were unfounded. On Saturday, Bryant's campaign replaced the ad with one that omitted the reference to Corker's tax record.

"Regrettably, however, this was one of those times in campaign politics where there is not enough time in a 30-second TV ad to adequately explain the way in which Bob Corker, a millionaire many times over, has twice used loopholes in the tax code to lower his taxable income to zero in an effort to avoid paying income taxes," Bryant said in a news release.

The winner of Thursday's Republican primary likely will face U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who has no serious opposition in the Democratic primary.

Tennesseans deserve better than this kind of vile rhetoric day in and day out. People are struggling and they want answers--not petty bickering and attacks like these guys are offering.

As Congressman Ford said yesterday: "Tennesseans are fed up with high gas prices, illegal immigration, expensive health care and an Iraqi war that is worsening and maybe growing. They are also fed up with politicians who spend more time attacking one another and lying about each other’s record than trying to bring people together to solve some of the big problems we face. In the final days of this primary, I appeal to the Republican candidates in the Senate race to show some decency and have some dignity -- stop the lies and attacks on one another and give Tennesseans a worthy debate about issues," said Ford.

The Congressman is 100% correct.

Congressman Ford has ran a campaign the way it is supposed to be done--on the issues. And when he had a primary opponent, Senator Kurita, both of them treated each other with the utmost respect and dignity.

If you are like me and tired of these kind of nasty attacks that get us nowhere and are ready for answers to the problems that we all face, vote for a new generation of leadership this fall.

We deserve real leadership and that is what Harold Ford Jr. is offering in this election.