Zach Wamp: Haslam mailer makes him look foreign, ugly
Posted: Monday, August 2, 2010 8:02 pm
By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Zach Wamp is denouncing rival Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam’s latest mail piece, saying Haslam doctored his image and used what he calls Middle Eastern imagery.
The mail piece features a fuzzy picture of Wamp with a backdrop of what appears to be a wall with crumbling yellow paint. The reverse side has text about Wamp’s congressional record written over an image of the U.S. Capitol.
The Chattanooga congressman called the mailer “demonic” during a campaign stop in Arlington on Friday.
“They painted up my face, created a beard, used all this Middle Eastern looking imagery, and it’s awful,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “What kind of gutter politics is that?”
Asked Saturday what part of the mailer he considers to be Middle Eastern, Wamp didn’t cite anything specific.
“All of that, just the whole — I don’t know, I think it’s just ugly,” he said. “It’s like they painted you up to make you look like you’re from a foreign country.”
Haslam laughed off the suggestion that the mailer contained Middle Eastern themes during a campaign event at a Nashville restaurant.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m proud of the campaign we’ve run.”
Haslam also denied that the photo was manipulated to create the appearance of facial hair.
Haslam campaign consultant Tom Ingram said he didn’t know what the yellow background was supposed to represent.
“It’s just a background on a mailer. This whole thing is silly,” he said.
He said Wamp has an “active imagination” about the intentions of the mailer.
Wamp, Haslam and state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville are the main candidates seeking the GOP nomination on Thursday. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen can’t run again because of term limits.
Wamp on Saturday also dismissed Haslam as a “weak leader” who as governor would do the bidding of his father Jim and brother Jimmy, the founder and top executive of the family-owned Pilot Corp. chain of truck stops.
“Everybody has known that he has been a puppet for them for a long time,” Wamp said.
Haslam, who was president of Pilot before being elected Knoxville mayor in 2003, and his father said at the Nashville event that there was nothing to Wamp’s allegation.
“I’ve been mayor for the last six and a half years, and I’m proud of my record there and proud of my record in business,” Bill Haslam said. “I’m sorry he’s saying those sort of things, and really am not even going to respond to him.”
Jim Haslam said that he has no ambitions to run the state and that his son “is his own man.” “I’m 79 years old, and I’ll be 80 in three months,” he said. “All I’m worried about is the next couple years for Jim Haslam and my family, so that is completely wrong.”
Wamp said at the earlier campaign stop in Arlington that his experience in the campaign has led him to change his opinion about the Haslam family.
“Like many other really rich and powerful people in America, they’re nice as long as they get their way,” he said. “But if anybody upsets their apple cart or stands in the way of them in their quest for power, they are ruthless.”
Published in The Messenger 8.2.10