Blackburn, Bredesen attack on debate stage and TV screens

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn repeatedly attempted to tie her Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen to national Democrats in their second and final debate Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the former Tennessee governor deflected the attacks by once again promising to improve bipartisanship in Congress.

The two candidates exchanged barbs and went on the aggressive during the hour-long event. The debate took place at the University of Tennessee's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Blackburn used former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as her example of Democrats Bredesen supports in almost all of her responses to various questions.

Bredesen countered he would not let party tribalism get in the way of getting things done in Washington D.C.

The two are competing in a race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

However, the attacks aren't just on the debate floor. Voters will often see the competition on their television screens. Attack ads ramp up this time of year.

Mark O'Gorman, a political science professor at Maryville College said it's nearly impossible to win by taking the high road.

"You don't just stand in the middle of the ring and not defend yourself when the other side is punching you over and over with attack ads," he said.

But, the facts don't always match up. The Maryville College professor said it's important that voters do their own research. He recommended going to neutral websites like Politifact.com. The organization fact-checks political ads.

They won't go away any time soon. O'Gorman said the race for U.S. Senate is in a dead heat.