Live from Music Row Friday 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 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty and Senator Tom Cotton to the studio.
During the third hour, Cotton and Hagerty disclosed their position on China and how they would partner together in the U.S. Senate. Hagerty reiterated his commitment to standing strong behind President Trump against threats both foreign and domestic.
Leahy: I’m here with all-star panelist Crom Carmichael and former ambassador Bill Hagerty. Welcome Ambassador.
Hagerty: Great to be back. Great to be back.
Leahy: And Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Welcome, Senator Cotton. You’ve been on the campaign trail, Bill?
Hagerty: We’ve been burning up the highway in Tennessee. We’ve had a great time. It’s great to be back out again too. We’re getting super momentum and energy coming back from the trail.
Leahy: Terrific. And Senator Cotton you made a lot of waves here endorsing Bill Hagerty for the US State Senate. Tell us why you’ve endorsed Bill Hagerty.
Cotton: I endorsed Bill Hagerty for the same reasons President Trump endorsed Bill Hagerty for the United States Senate. He will be a strong conservative fighter there in Washington with us. I met Bill when the president nominated him to be our ambassador of Japan. A vital post when it comes to confronting China’s aggression and ambitions to replace the United States as the world’s economic and military power. Bill did a great job in that role.
I think he might like to still be over there representing our country. But Trump recognized just how important it was to have Bill Hagerty in the United States Senate. I know he will be standing firm and tall with me to defend our troops. To stand up to China. To stand up to these liberal mobs and rioters that we see in our streets. I’m very excited to be here back in Tennessee campaigning for Bill.
Hagerty: President Trump and I were talking about coming over and leaving my last post. He was insistent that because I’ve had the experience of dealing with China. And he needs another ally in the United States Senate that understands where China is coming from and someone with backbone too. He needs more allies in the Senate to do that. And he and I have had such a long experience together working closely so that’s what I’m going to do.
Leahy: China has turned out to be such a bad actor. We turn around every time and they seem to be undermining our interests. you talk about Senator Cotton the military issues. You are quite unusual in the sense that you graduated from Harvard Law School and then after graduating you decided to join the Army. Instead of going for the JAG Core you became an infantry officer and you served 11 months in Iraq. And then 11 months in Afghanistan. I mean that’s real military service.
Cotton: Yes. Maybe becoming an infantry officer in the Army was a reflection of my skills as a lawyer. (Laughter) I had to join the Army after Harvard to redeem myself. I spent six months in Iraq. I spend nine months in Afghanistan. I was in Iraq with 101st Airborne’s Screaming Eagles. I’m looking forward to being in Clarksville later today and visiting some of my old haunts there as we campaign together.
Leahy: What time will you be there, Bill?
Hagerty: We will be up there a little before our noon event today.
Leahy: What I found interesting the first time you had an oped in The New York Times and you were writing as a soldier in 2006 from Iraq. Is that right?
Cotton: Well, I sent a letter to the editor at The New York Times after they had once again disclosed highly sensitive and classified information. And Bill knows how damaging that can be after his time as ambassador for President Trump in Japan. They didn’t publish it but I did copy a few conservative websites. Powerline website did publish it.
Leahy: The Powerline. John Hinderaker. Good guy.
Cotton: Yeah our friends John and Scott up north.
Leahy: Up in Minneapolis.
Cotton: I just said look, there is no license to publish highly classified and sensitive information. That’s going to get troops over here in Iraq killed.
Hagerty: It puts American lives at risk.
Cotton: You people should not be on the Pulitzer stage next year you should be behind bars.
Hagerty: And tipping your hand. We dealt with it every day in Japan too because we are facing down China every single day. They use cyber-terrorism and every means possible to gain information about us and our movements.
As you probably know Japan is the host to more US military right now than any other place in the world. And that’s because we are staring them down every day. There is a tremendous amount of interest and a high need to maintain confidentiality on this information.
Leahy: So fast forward from 2006 when they wouldn’t print your letter to the editor. 2020 they did print your op-ed. Which is by the way a very good op-ed on the legal use of military force when necessary here in America. Oh my goodness. The reaction. The cancel culture. Tell us a little bit about that.
Cotton: This was the first day of June and the height of the rioting in Washington, D.C. The rioting was happening just across the street from the White House. I published this op-ed that The New York Times solicited and said if necessary the president needs to call forth federal troops under the Insurrection Act that goes back to the beginning of the republic.
Leahy: It’s been exercised 19 times by various presidents.
Hagerty: Yes. We did it in 1992 to deal with South Central Los Angeles.
Cotton: Absolutely. And it should always be a last resort and Bill agrees with me on this. If necessary the federal troops have to be called out it should always be a last resort but it has to be an option. Especially has to be an option in the seat of our government across the street from the president where the nuclear codes are located. And you continue to see that kind of rioting and vandalism in that area.
They tried to tear down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. I told President Trump as it was happening that there is a law on the books that prohibits this. You cannot deface or destroy a memorial or a monument to someone’s military service.
And Andrew Jackson is mounted on a horse and wearing his uniform. And fortunately, they arrested some of those perpetrators and they and they face up to 10 years in prison. This is again another reason why I want Bill in the U.S. Senate because he understands that we can have zero tolerance for rioters and anarchists and insurrectionists.
Hagerty: Absolutely. I was going to say that is why the president has endorsed me too. Tom needs another ally there that’s got the backbone and the strength to stand up to this and call it what it is.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael the original all-star panelist on The Tennessee Star Report is here. And Crom has a question.
Carmichael: Bill, you’ve got a set of skills from your adult life. Which of those skills do you think matters the most in taking a place in the U.S. Senate? In other words, where do you see that you can make a difference that other senators perhaps don’t have those skills and so you’ll be able to look at issues differently than say, other people?
Hagerty: Well beyond skills, I think the most important thing is character, integrity, and having a strong backbone and being willing to stand with our president when times are tough. I did it back in 2016. It was very politically unpopular back then.
But I stood with President Trump and I volunteered for six months full time to help him get elected at a time when nobody else that’s running in this campaign was willing to step up, lift a finger or donate a dime. It was just me. I’m the true Trump conservative that’s really ready to push things forward. My business experience. You know I’ve been a businessman my whole career.
That makes a big difference I think in terms of taking a practical real-world perspective. And President Trump right now needs somebody that understands how an economy works. That’s why he’s put me on the White House Economic Recovery Task Force already to get our economy. To help us get our economy started quickly. I stepped in and served as head of Economic Development back in 2011. You may remember. At that point, we were coming out of the worst recession that we’ve seen until now.
Barack Obama’s solution to that was a $1.5 trillion stimulus but he put a lot more regulations on top of us at the same time. So Tennessee wasn’t recovering when I came in. January 2011 we were worse off then most states and our unemployment rate was higher than the national average.
I went to work and cut the department down and eliminated over 40 positions in the department I was hired to run. Then I reorganized it and we started to work. In Tennessee at the time I was there we became number one in terms of job growth, GOP growth, and low unemployment. So it can be done. But you’ve got to have a practical perspective and a real businessman perspective to help.
Carmichael: You are out on the trail every day 14-16 hours a day. Do the people know about this? About your background on all these different things? Especially for what you did in the state of Tennessee?
Hagerty: I’ve worked in all 95 counties. I’ve been there multiple times. It took a lot of work to get us turned around. When we went to a regional structure we started working in the field. I’m just glad to be back on the trail now.
Leahy: Crom I want to ask Senator Cotton this question. You’ve been a critic of the Communist Chinese Party. Big time. And a lot of people are arguing their handling of this coronavirus pandemic has been reckless. What are your thoughts on that?
Cotton: It’s been totally reckless. China has revealed itself to be a paranoia state. China had been forthcoming in early December when they discovered this virus in Wuhan and told the World Health Organization it might have been simply a local health problem. As opposed to the worst pandemic the world has faced in a century.
That early negligence was followed by benevolence when they lied about the severity of the virus. They refused to allow into Wuhan. They stockpiled protective equipment that they could then use to extort other countries. So China is responsible for all of the harms that have befallen to our people. Bill knows that. Bill stood up to them in Japan and he’ll stand up to them in the Senate.
Hagerty: One of the most damming things too Tom is they prohibited any sort of internal air travel in China. You couldn’t fly from Wuhan to Beijing but you could certainly get a flight from Wuhan to Italy or to the west coast of the United States.
Cotton: Bill points it out and that’s exactly right and he understands what the threat is. China is willing to create this pandemic to protect its own power. They knew that they were going to take one on the chin but they weren’t going to do it alone. And the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for the deaths of 65 million of its own people in modern history. If you don’t think they’d kill a few hundred foreigners to maintain their role to power in the world. And Bill Hagerty is not naive about China.
Hagerty: I think they’ve made it pretty clear to Americans. We can’t be dependent upon them for antibiotics and medical supplies or high technology anymore. I know how to hit China where it hurts. I want to see Made in the USA the theme of America again.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Tom Cotton” by Michael Vadon. CC BY 2.0.