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Bredesen, Blackburn clash repeatedly in first Senate campaign debate


LEBANON, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  The candidates vying to be Tennessee’s next Senator faced off in a heated, hour-long debate last night.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen clashed on most issued, including healthcare, immigration, and gun control.

One of the harshest exchanges came in response to a question about the opioid epidemic. Bredesen called Blackburn a crisis “enabler” citing legislation she sponsored at the request of drug companies.

“They asked her and she passed a stealth bill that basically took much of the enforcement ability the DEA had to deal with these issues from law enforcement ability away."

Blackburn said that accusation was “false.” She went on to accuse Bredesen of opposing measures stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country.”

“Of course, much of this is coming in from Mexico, and Phil has said he opposes securing that southern border."

During the debate both candidates followed strategies they’ve used throughout the campaign. Blackburn sought to paint Bredesen as the puppet of Democratic Party interests.

“He is (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer’s number one recruit. When he (Schumer) comes to Phil (Bredesen) and says vote for this to spend more, he’ll be there to do it.”

For his part, Bredesen portrayed Blackburn as a Washington insider.

“(Blackburn) who has been in Washington for the last 16 years and shows it, and is very steeped in that political philosophy, and frankly has gotten very good at it.”

Blackburn and Bredesen are competing for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Corker. The two will face off again on October 10 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.