While constituents gathered to sit in on Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's town hall meetings in Chattanooga last Thursday, Bedford County resident Mark Twain began organizing a political campaign of his own.
Twain, whose full name is Mark Twain Clemens, attended each of the congressman's four events to hand out flyers announcing his intent to run against Sen. Bob Corker in next year's Republican primary.
"I'm working hard to sit in the United States Senate for the great state of Tennessee," Twain wrote in the opening lines of his handout. "I believe I'm the only one who is running for federal service of the people who has identified the problem and cause that is crippling our economy and way of life, and I have a working solution."
For Twain, who is currently unemployed, the fight to relieve the weight of debt on the nation's economy aligns with current GOP representatives as the top priority in his platform for winning votes. To get America back on the right track, Twain suggests ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, raising tariffs, and building a transcontinental passenger rail system—a solution which he believes is better than anything Corker has proposed thus far.
"Mr. Corker can buy billboards and television ads, but when a politician has no good ideas or nothing smart to say, he hides behind a bunch of money," Twain said in a phone interview. "I figure that's what he's doing. He has no solution for how to grab the bull by the horns, and wrestle it back to the ground."
When asked if he had studied Corker's recent CAP Act proposal to reduce the national deficit over the next decade, Twain said he wasn't impressed.
"I remember when it first came up, I kind of started watching it," he said. "I didn't think it was that good."
Twain said he decided to run for office after watching congress on CSPAN and coming to the realization that the process in Washington could be carried out more efficiently without career politicians tiptoeing around their decisions based on prospects for re-election.
When it comes to the bipartisan "super-committee" of lawmakers tasked with eliminating $1.2 trillion from the national debt, Twain has no expectations for them to reach consensus.
"It's not right that only 12 guys are going to make decisions for the rest of us," Twain said. "I don't think they're going to come up with a solution, they're going to be deadlocked with their parties, like a locked jury. If either party was serious about coming to a resolution, they would've had an odd number of people on that committee."
Even though the 2012 primary is more than a year away, Twain said he believed that with time and the right amount of funding, he could potentially unseat Corker.
Recent reports from the Federal Election Commission show Corker has more than $5 million in cash-on-hand for the coming race—an exorbitant sum compared to Twain's $1,500 raised thus far.
But Twain didn't seem fazed.
"I think I could probably take him with half-a-million, because I've got a working idea," Twain said. "Most people I know tell me I'm wasting my time and my money. But if America ain't here in 20 years, well, that ain't gonna be good at all."