In an exclusive interview Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – host Michael Patrick Leahy spoke with Dr. Manny Sethi in-studio to discuss his background and reasons he is running for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in Tennessee.
Sethi told Leahy that, if elected and sworn in as a Republican United States Senator, he will not vote for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senate Majority Leader.
“Right now, we’ve got Mitch McConnell up there, and this guy just shuts everybody down. And the career politicians, the establishment, they just run the day. But that’s why we need folks up there who come from outside the government, to change things,” Sethi said.
“Mitch McConnell, if the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, he will still probably be the Majority Leader,” Leahy said.
“He won’t have my vote,” Sethi responded.
“He won’t have your vote?” Leahy asked.
“I will not vote for him. I don’t know who I’ll vote for, but I won’t vote for that guy,” Sethi said.
“You just made some news here,” Leahy noted.
“If you don’t vote for him, and he is the Majority Leader, how will you accomplish what you want?” Leahy asked.
“If he is the leader, I’ll work with him,” Sethi responded.
Sethi faces former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who has been endorsed in the race by President Trump, in the August 2020 primary for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is retiring. The winner of that primary will be the heavy favorite to win the November 2020 general election.
Former Ambassador Hagerty was an in-studio guest on The Tennessee Star Report last Friday. In that interview, Hagerty blasted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for his refusal to oppose the Democrat impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and called Romney’s position on impeachment “flat out wrong.”
“The president has endorsed Bill Hagerty, former Ambassador to Japan. How do you react to that?” Leahy asked Sethi.
“First of all, when we got in this thing, look, Hagerty is this guy’s ambassador. He was Mitt Romney’s finance chairman. He raised him millions of dollars. Who wouldn’t endorse their own ambassador?” Sethi said.
“But here’s the thing. If you look at the grassroots movement in Tennessee, the people who got Trump elected through the primary in Tennessee, they’re with us. And I think in due time, when the president comes to learn about us, who we are, I believe he’ll be with me, because just like him, I’m the conservative Christian outsider in this race. And I think that’s what he needs. More people who aren’t career politicians,” Sethi continued.
“And I would just push back just a little bit about my friend the ambassador’s record, because look, he supported Common Core, he supported Medicaid expansion. He was with Mitt Romney, who was the father of universal health care. We’re just different people. He’s a great guy, we’re just different,” Sethi noted.
“So you brought up Mitt Romney. In this studio, sitting in the chair you’re sitting in, on Friday, former Ambassador Bill Hagerty said that on the impeachment issue, Mitt Romney, who’s been wavering as to whether he’s for or against it, is ‘flat out wrong.’ He was very, very direct. Called out Mitt Romney. Said he would tell him that as well. So, Ambassador Hagerty is separating himself from Mitt Romney in that regard,” Leahy said.
“Mitt Romney endorsed him, and Mitch McConnell endorsed him,” Sethi said.
“Mitt Romney endorsed him?” Leahy asked.
“Yes,” Sethi confirmed.
[Editors Note: The Tennessee Star did not find any press report or statement that could confirm Dr. Sethi’s assertion that Mitt Romney has endorsed Bill Hagerty. The Star contacted the Sethi campaign to see if they could provide any report that would confirm Dr. Sethi’s assertion.
Here is what the campaign provided:
From this WSJ article: “If he decides to get in, I would love it,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) said in an interview last month. Mr. Romney had met recently with Mr. Hagerty, who once served as finance chief for Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign. “I told him it’s a great job.”
While that Romney quote indicates he has a positive view of former Ambassador Hagerty, it is not a formal endorsement.]
After a commercial break, Sethi and Leahy were joined in-studio by Crom Carmichael, The Tennessee Star Report’s original All-Star Panelist.
Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:
Leahy: So, Manny, we’re joined now by Crom Carmichaell our All-Star Panelist. Welcome Crom.
Sethi: Hey Crom, hey brother.
Carmichael: Hello hello. How ya’ll doing?
Leahy: So, I want to ask you a question if we could here and that is Manny, you were critical of Mitch McConnell. Said you weren’t going to vote for him. You made some news.
Sethi: Yeah. By the way Mitch McConnell doing a fundraiser for my opponent on October 22nd at a hotel in Washington, D.C.
Leahy: But isn’t it true by the way that Mitch McConnell has done a very good job getting conservative judicial nominees through the Senate?
Sethi: Absolutely. And I commend him and the President for that. But look, let’s talk about Obamacare. This broken healthcare system which has put government between their patient and their doctor. Let’ talk about our broken immigration system where we have an illegal immigrant invasion in this country.
What about those issues. Mitch McConnell and these establishment Republicans and career politicians will not effect change in Washington. And look that’s why I’m going there. As a trauma surgeon what I do, is I walk into situations and I have to immediately stop the bleeding. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Leahy: So you’re going to stop the bleeding. Is it fair to criticize Mitch McConnell for that when the people who couldn’t get it through were the folks in the House when Paul Ryan was Speaker of the House?
Sethi: You know look, all these guys you mentioned are all these career politician guys who’ve been up there forever and probably been there since I was five years old. But here’s the thing man, it’s time for a change. And folks like Mitch McConnell are just not in line with the conservative movement in Tennessee.
Leahy: Crom, you’ve met Manny before?
Carmichael: Yes. I have.
Leahy: You’ve been following this campaign?
Carmichael: Well, a little bit. I’m following it more now because I think Dr. Manny you’re out campaigning what five, six days a week?
Sethi: Yeah six days.
Carmichael: Still practicing one day a week. Just to keep one foot in that door which is admirable. Have you been to all the counties so far?
Sethi: I’ve probably been to 60-70 of the counties. I’ve been in all 95 in the last nine years taking care of patients. I’ve seen patients from Memphis to Mt. City. Through Healthy Tennessee so, I’ve been across the state. But the last six months we’ve put like 30.000 on my Durango. I got this blue Dodge Durango and we’ve put like 30,000 miles on this thing.
Carmichael: You may want to get a big red pick up truck. (Laughter) Think about the days of Fred Thompson
Sethi: He was my patient.
Carmichael: Oh really?
Leahy: He was your patient!
Sethi: He was my patient.
Leahy: You’re prohibited from saying any details. What kind of guy was he?
Sethi: Oh man, he was tough. I’ll just tell you this story about Fred Thompson. That guy did not know about Alleve. You know Alleve the drug that you get over at CVS or Walgreens.
Leahy: Over the counter.
Sethi: I told him about Alleve and you’d a thought I’d cured cancer. (Leahy laughs) You think I’d found some vaccine. He was a really good guy.
Leahy: Did you watch the Democratic Presidential debate last night?
Sethi: You know last night I was speaking at the Right to Life convention in Knoxville so I, unfortunately, didn’t. But I heard some of it. They’re just crazy.
Leahy: I don’t think you missed much.
Sethi: They’re just crazy.
Leahy: Elizabeth Warren, you didn’t build that, you didn’t make that.
Carmichael: Actually I didn’t watch the Democratic debate so I could be as informed as Adam Schiff is on his impeachment theories. So that I could just expound on what I think I might have seen.
Leahy: So, why do you want to leave beautiful Tennessee?
Leahy: What a great place Tennessee is. And then you’re going to be right in the middle of the swamp if you win this thing.
Sethi: But you know, here’s the thing. My parents, came to this country with absolutely nothing. They came here legally. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio but came to Tennessee when I was four years old.
Leahy: And by the way, the first very good decision.
Carmichael: A wise choice.
Sethi: You know, rural Coffee County. My parents were both Doctors. And that community poured their heart and soul out tojust me.
Leahy: So this is like the 1970s, 1980s
Leahy: Indians are doctors in Coffee County.
Sethi: Coffee County yeah. My mom was the first OBGYN out there.
Leahy: How did the community accept your family?
Sethi: Oh man, they wrapped their arms around me and my brother. You know, I was born here and I came to Tennessee when I was really young. But I grew up just thinking that Randy Travis and George Jones were just kind of what you listened to man. But that’s why I want to run.
I am the product of the American Dream in Tennessee. And I just feel that the Lord has called me to make a bigger difference. A generational difference. And Matthew:9 teaches us the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. I’ve been a doctor. I’ve run this non-profit. And running for the Senate is no different. I just feel like we need people who want to go up there and make a change. Not the establishment career politicians.
Leahy: You mentioned that you’re Christian. We’re your mom and dad Christian when they came here?
Sethi: They had so many tragedies and things happen in their life and that faith wasn’t a central component in their life. And they wanted faith to be a central component in my life. So I went to a Bible-based school from an early child.
Leahy: Did they become Christians when they were in the states?
Sethi: They were brought up in the Hindu faith but they were so busy taking care of patients. My dad was on call every night.
Leahy: So he was working most of the time?
Sethi: I went to a Bible-based school.
Leahy: What was that like? Here’s this Indian kid with a southern accent.
Sethi: Yeah. I know. It comes back when I’m tired too. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: What was that like? Did people say, ‘Hey, who is this kid?’
Sethi: No. I remember there was this guy. Because my parents were never around and were always in the hospital taking care of people. And there was a guy named Billy Joe Whites and he worked with my parents. And he had this big blue beat-up Ford pick up truck with one broken radio speaker.
He loved Randy Travis and George Jones. And that’s where I got my love for old country music. I spent so much time with him and his family and I never felt a difference. But that’s the kind of guy I am. I walk into a room and I see what brings us together not what separates us. And that’s what we need in America right now.
We don’t need these leftist Squad people talking about how it’s so hard in America. Are you kidding me? America is the greatest country in the world.
Leahy: So that was Elizabeth Warren’s message. Victim. You didn’t build that. And I think this is the problem. What I see, tell me what you think, the division of America. The Democrats are making it worse. Because everybody who’s a Democrat and supports them, everybody is a victim.
And they’re going after other folks who are the bad folks and it’s increasingly dividing America. How can, just at the national level, how can America be united again when there are such strong feelings on the left against America?
Sethi: So, I tell ya this. Just a very quick story. When I was a little kid, my dad would take me back to India in the wintertime OK? And we lived in this house and there was this huge hole in the roof and it would be like 30 degrees. And so my brother and I would fight over the one or two blankets that were there.
And he’d always take them because he’s a bully. But I love him. And my dad would always walk in he would tell us, ‘Be grateful for being born in America.’ And so as a son of two immigrants I see this country in a very different way. I’m very grateful to have lived the American Dream in Tennessee.
That’s what we have to do in our country. We need to bring that appreciation back. If some of these left folks like the Squad, if they could just see the world through those eyes I really think we could bring people together. And that’s what I want to talk about as your next US Senator. It is the incredible power of our country.
For more information or to learn about Dr. Manny Sethi for Tennessee Senate go to www.drmannyforsenate.com.
You can listen to the full interview in the second hour of Wednesday’s program here:
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