Rep. Chuck Fleischmann accused challenger Weston Wamp and his father of consorting with Democrats and Mr. Wamp said he sees a need "to reach across the aisle" in a 3rd District Congressional debate at WTCI public TV on Wednesday night.
Going on the attack several times, Rep. Fleischmann said he had been advised that Mr. Wamp and his father, former Congressman Zach Wamp, had been meeting with Democrats seeking their support.
"Answer my question," he demanded in the debate moderated by Dave Flessner, business editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Mr. Wamp, making his second challenge of the incumbent, responded that many people he meets in the district are "tired of politics and posturing" and want members of Congress to work together to reach solutions to difficult problems.
Rep. Fleischmann, saying, "I can't believe what I'm hearing," maintained that he will "continue to fight Obama, Pelosi and Reid."
Mr. Wamp said in his travels in the far-flung district he has learned "that it is not as Republican as you might think." Rep. Fleischmann said he is proud that it is one of the most conservative in the country.
The 51-year-old incumbent said of the young challenger, "If he wants to run as a Democrat, let him run as a Democrat."
At one point Mr. Wamp said the incumbent apparently believes "that Democrats have cooties and you can't talk to them."
Rep. Fleischmann retorted, "They have got a lot worse than that, Weston."
The former attorney, who has served two terms, maintained that Rep. Zach Wamp left the Chickamauga Lock "in shambles." He said he has been working on the project for almost four years and recently presided when the House approved a new funding formula.
Mr. Wamp said the recent Congressional action still does not get the long-stalled Lock restarted. He said he and others drive by it regularly and find that nothing is happening.
Both GOP candidates said they highly respect Senator Bob Corker of Chattanooga, but said they would not go along with his idea for a 12-cent federal gas tax increase.
Rep. Fleischmann said the U.S. is making progress toward energy self-sufficiency and should turn to oil and gas royalties for infrastructure needs.
Mr. Wamp said he likes the idea of Senator Rand Paul of lowering the repatriation rate and returning funds held by U.S. companies.
Rep. Fleischmann pointed to the importance of having earned key committee assignments, noting that he is on the appropriations committee. Mr. Wamp said the value of such assignments is overblown, saying that members of Congress "with guts" can lead and make their mark.
At one point, Mr. Wamp accused his opponent of being angry, but Rep. Fleischmann denied that he was angry.
Mr. Wamp gave out his cell phone number and said those trying to reach Rep. Fleischmann must go through his spokesman from Texas.