U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn delivered her first speech Monday night since joining the race to replace Bob Corker, telling the Maury Cattlemen’s Association that Twitter blocked her video campaign announcement for saying she shut down the practice of selling baby body parts.
In a three-minute campaign video Thursday, the Republican congresswoman called herself a “hard-core, card-carrying Tennessee conservative” who’s proud of being “politically incorrect.”
Blackburn, who represents parts of Columbia and southern Middle Tennessee in Congress, emerged as the front-runner for Corker’s seat when Gov. Bill Haslam announced he would not run. The GOP field for 2018 also includes Columbia’s Andy Ogles.
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” Blackburn told the group at the Tennessee Farm Bureau in Columbia. “We are where we’re supposed to be.”
Blackburn boasted in the campaign video that she “stopped the sale of baby body parts” as the head of a House panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. The claim led Twitter on Monday to block her video announcement, explaining the comment was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”
“We investigated what was happening with the sale of baby body parts and ended that practice in this country,” Blackburn said of her role as chairperson of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. “Thank God we ended that practice.
“When I did a video announcement on the Senate campaign, I mentioned I chaired that panel and that we had ended that practice. Twitter decided it would censor that video because they found they language to be offensive and inflammatory,” she added.
A 1993 U.S. law banned the sale of baby parts, but Blackburn believed the practice was ongoing and led to the investigative panel.
Twitter said the Blackburn campaign could reload the video without the baby body parts reference, and it would allow users to link to her video, which has been viewed more than 80,000 times on
YouTube. Videos on YouTube receive most of their traffic from social media links.
Earlier Monday, Twitter spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said Blackburn’s campaign account violated the terms of the social media platform.
“Twitter provides a platform for its users to share and receive a wide range of ideas and content, and we greatly value and defend our users’ ability to express themselves,” Pacilio said in a statement.
“Advertisers on Twitter have access to a wide range of targeting option to promote their Tweets to a wider audience. Because of this, advertisers on Twitter have the power to reach an audience beyond the users who choose to follow their account.”
Meanwhile, Blackburn’s audience of about 100 cattlemen Monday night came to hear Blackburn’s thoughts on the Environmental Protection Agency, Obamacare, tax cuts and other rural issues.
? On the EPA: “On the Energy and Commerce Committee, we oversee the EPA. We have had a lot of fun dealing with them this year. We cut their budget by $81 million. We enjoyed being able to do that.
“Then, that was not quite good enough for me. I proposed an amendment to cut an additional 1 percent from their budget. I thought, ‘Why do we want to stop [cutting] now?’ Let’s keep cutting until we shut them down and put them back into the Department of Energy.”
? On Obamacare: We are still committed to seeing the Senate get the repeal of Obamacare across the finish line. It is important to Tennesseans. Their healthcare costs have gone up 176 percent since the Obamacare law went on the books.
“That has such a major impact on budgets, on everybody’s budget. It also increases the costs of healthcare and the delivery of healthcare. Making sure patients are at the forefront of healthcare, not insurance companies and the government, is where our goals lie.”
? On tax cuts: We are excited about some of the provisions we are pushing forward. The American people are going to be excited about this.
“We are looking at marginal rates of 12, 25 and 35 percent for individual filers. All of small business entities would benefit from the new business tax rate of 25 percent.”
? On rural broadband: “We are focused on the expansion of high-speed internet in rural areas where there is not service. We are in the process of developing that legislation.
“We know that our communities need it for economic development, our hospitals need it for 21st-century healthcare and our students need it to do their lessons. This will bring the world to your door steps.”
The 65-year-old congresswoman answered some questions from the audience, then left for Nashville to appear on a Fox News program to discuss the Twitter decision.
“Be sure to watch me,” Blackburn said, waving goodbye.
Blackburn is history in the making. If she wins the primary, she would be the first Republican woman to win the nomination. If she wins the seat, she would become the first woman from Tennessee to serve in the U.S. Senate seat.
James Bennett is editor of The Daily Herald. His column blends exclusive reporting, old-school journalistic storytelling and original commentary on whatever catches his fancy or yours. He was a 2017 Tennessee Press Association first-place award winner for editorial writing and public service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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