Conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham urged a ballroom full of Tennessee conservatives on Tuesday night to retire Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) like an “old sweater” that’s gone out of style.
"He was really comfortable and sharp looking at one point, but now it just takes up room in your drawer," she said, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Ingraham spoke Tuesday at a 500-strong rally in Nashville for Alexander’s main primary challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, who’s gained traction in recent weeks in his underdog bid to unseat Alexander.
Carr has made that a central focus of his campaign, charging Alexander voted for “amnesty” with his support for the bipartisan immigration reform proposal that passed in the Senate last year.
Conservatives view that message as particularly potent after similar attacks contributed to the shocking defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in his primary — a defeat Ingraham was also rooting for.
And Carr has touted his work leading the fight for some of the strictest immigration laws in the nation in the Tennessee state legislature as evidence he’d do better than Alexander in the Senate.
At the Tuesday rally, Carr also slammed Alexander for working with Democrats.
"If you expect me to go to Washington, D.C. and hold hands around the campfire, roast marshmallows, and sing Kumbaya, you're sending the wrong guy," Carr said. "I'm going up there to start a fight."
Polling has shown Alexander in a solid position for reelection, and though Carr picked up the backing of a handful of national conservative groups in recent weeks, none have yet gone to bat for him with a significant financial investment.
Alexander, for his part, has been on air consistently for the past month, and on Tuesday launched a new ad in which former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson (R) endorses him. Thompson is one of a number of prominent endorsements — including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — that have helped Alexander maintain his lead.
The senator’s campaign spokesman, Brian Reisinger, touted those endorsements in a statement responding to the Ingraham event.
"Sen. Alexander has broad support from conservative grassroots Tennesseans, as well as endorsements from National Right to Life, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich," he said.
But Ingraham and Carr mocked those endorsements.
"We have senators in Washington who issue press releases and hide behind endorsements, and who occasionally will show up for the photo op," she said. "I don't particularly think they're making a difference."