- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 7, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is keeping President Donald Trump at the center of her Senate campaign in her second TV ad.

In the new digital and statewide TV commercial, Blackburn’s campaign is replaying footage of a Nashville rally in May when Trump boosted her candidacy. The ad touts Trump’s endorsement and Blackburn’s commitments to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, repeal the Affordable Care Act and keep tax cuts permanent.

The ad is the clearest signal since the Aug. 2 primary that Blackburn will keep making her ties to Trump a key selling point in a tight race. Trump won Tennessee by 26 percentage points in 2016, but polls indicate a close contest between Blackburn and popular former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Bredesen says he’ll be independent and support Trump’s good ideas for Tennessee and oppose the bad ones. Blackburn’s campaign paints Bredesen as in lockstep with Washington Democrats.

In a news release about the Trump ad, Blackburn campaign manager Kevin Golden said voters “expect Tennessee’s next Senator to work alongside the President and their Senate colleagues to pass his agenda, and Marsha Blackburn is the only candidate they can trust to do that.”

On Monday, Bredesen campaign manager Bob Corney issued a “state of the race” memo, saying, “the Washington status-quo is panicking because our positive message is resonating with voters.”

A recent Bredesen digital ad shows several Republicans, including Sen. Bob Corker, speaking positively about Bredesen in news clips. U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and former state Rep. Debra Maggart issued statements expressing irritation about the use of their words. Maggart says her comments were clipped. Fleischmann and Maggart are supporting Blackburn. Corker said he’s supporting Blackburn but won’t campaign against his friend, Bredesen.

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