Mudslinging intensifies in 3rd District Republican race - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mudslinging intensifies in 3rd District Republican race

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Fleischmann campaign flyer Fleischmann campaign flyer
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - It is two weeks away from voters heading to the polls in Tennessee for the primary election and the 3rd Congressional District race is one to watch. As voting day draws closer, the fight between incumbent Representative Chuck Fleischmann and his challenger, Weston Wamp, is intensifying.

The endorsements are pouring in for both Republican candidates in the Third District.

"I think people like him are looking to who the next generation leaders are within the Republican party," said Wamp in reference to an endorsement Friday.

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum put his support behind Wamp.

Fleischmann has his own list of of endorsements including Governor Mike Huckabee, the NRA, and the National Right Life.

Fleischmann was at an event near Knoxville Friday but his communications director replied by email: "Chuck respects Rick Santorum and looks forward to earning his support after the primary."

Fleischmann's campaign recently started airing ads against Wamp, with one featuring former opponent Scottie Mayfield asking, "He's asking for our trust to represent us in Washington?" 

Wamp has fired back with his own ads, asking, "Whatever happened to statesmenship?"

"I think it's desperate. I think it's sad. I think the mail piece that people will get all over this district in their mail box today is filth," said Wamp.

Wamp is talking about a flyer from Fleischmann's campaign, that hit area mailboxes Friday. It depicts Wamp holding a passport and setting it on fire saying he supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. It pulls a quote from Wamp from a recent debate, saying "We need to find a pathway for them (illegal immigrants) to be legal."

"He takes just a small piece of what I said, labels it as amnesty," said Wamp.

The full sentence from the debate is, "We need to find a pathway for them to be legal but not citizens, but pay taxes."

When Channel 3 asked Fleischmann's office about the flyer, the communication director emailed us the Merriam-Webster definition of amnesty, followed by "When people come to our country illegally and he wants to provide them a pathway to legality, that is by definition amnesty."

Fleischmann defended his campaign's ads earlier this week, saying to Channel 3 in an interview, "I wouldn't necessarily view it in terms of negative and positive. When we go out and we campaign, we say things. We say things on the record. I'm talking to you now. When we say things and advocate positions, people need to know about that. Sometimes, the advertisements are the way that, that gets out."

Wamp says he is confident going into the primary vote. Fleischmann echoes that, saying he has a four year record to stand on, something his opponent does not have.

The winner of the primary will face off against Democratic candidate Dr. Mary Headrick in the general election in November.

WTCI-TV Public Relations Director Jennifer Crutchfield is a statement in response to the flyer, saying:

"We understand that members of our community may have received a printed communication from the Chuck Fleischmann for Congress Committee featuring the headline "Weston Wamp Supports Amnesty for Illegal Immigration." The mailer contains a quotation attributed to Mr. Wamp from the debate hosted by WTCI and the Chattanooga Times Free Press on July 2nd and text that denotes the source of that material.

The mailing also includes the WTCI logo, our service mark. Because the quotation is sourced in separate text, we believe that this unauthorized use of our logo and service mark is potentially misleading to the public. We want to be clear that WTCI does not endorse the campaign communications of any candidate in this race or any race and that the mailing does not necessarily represent the views of the staff or the board of WTCI.

Chuck Fleischmann for Congress Committee did not seek permission to use WTCI's logo and it was not granted. We've asked the organization to withdraw the mailer from circulation and cease to distribute it immediately.

We encourage all viewers to watch the complete debate at WTCI-TV.org."
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