Live from Music Row Thursday 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 Tennessee Republican US Senate candidate Bill Hagerty to the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Hagerty reiterated why he was the conservative choice for Tennesseans in the US Senate race and detailed his resume citing current and past accomplishments. He urged voters to come out to the polls and vote for him to show that Tennessee values are conservative values.
Leahy: We are joined on the line now by former Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty. Welcome, Bill!
Hagerty: Good morning, Mike. It’s great to be back with you.
Leahy: It’s a big day for you in Tennessee. It’s primary election day. What’s your closing argument to the voters here who have a choice in the Republican primary to replace outgoing and retiring Lamar Alexander?
Hagerty: Well first I’d remind that polls opened this morning at 7 am central time. 8 am eastern time. And we very much need to get our voters to turn out to send a strong message and demonstrate the fact that Tennessee values are conservative values.
We want to send that message loud and clear. I think I present a wonderful chance for people to take a homegrown Tennessean, fourth-generation from Sumner County, Tennessee, a Christian, a conservative, a businessman, and a proud pro-life father of four wonderful kids.
Someone that Tennesseans know is going to stand strong for them on the second amendment. I was the one that brought (Inaudible talk) to Tennessee. Someone that they know will work with President Trump and the rest of the Senate to make sure we confirm constitutionalist judges that don’t legislate from the bench.
Strong on life. 100 percent pro-life. Stand strong with our law enforcement. I’ve got their back 120 percent. Our military and our veterans, I’m with them. And I certainly have a deep interest and a lot of experience dealing with China. I’ve been appointed to the White House Economic Recovery Task Force already while I’m running for office.
The President has got me focused on the ways we are going to get our jobs back. And I’ll tell you this, I served earlier as the head of economic development for Tennessee. I took another time off from my career as a businessman at a time when we had to turn our state around.
Our country is ready for that right now. We have to get our economy going back again. And we’ve got to get our supply chains back from China. We can no longer be dependent on China for medical supplies. For antibiotics and high technology. I know where to hit China where it hurts. I want to make Made in the USA the theme of America again.
Leahy: Why are you the most reliably conservative candidate on the Republican ballot today?
Hagerty: I’m the only candidate that is a true conservative on the ballot. That’s been underscored by President Trump. We had a great town hall with him last night. We did it virtually of course under the circumstances but there was a huge turn out on that. President Trump underscored the fact that we’ve worked together since I volunteered full time in 2016 to help him get elected.
Again, Michael, that was at a time when particularly very few Republicans were willing to step up and get Trump elected. Certainly, I’m the only candidate in this race who lifted a finger or donated a dime to help him get elected in 2016. Marsha Blackburn has also echoed that as she’s endorsed me. Marsha is the most conservative member of the United States Senate.
She’s been very clear in her endorsement of me and why she trusts me. We’ve been allies for a long time. She’s also been very clear about why she doesn’t trust Manny Sethi. I think Tennesseans want to make certain that they are getting someone that would take their values. I’m the only clear choice to make. And I look forward to earning every one of their votes today.
Leahy: So give us a little inside scoop on this. What’s it like working with the President and being in the same room with him? What’s that back and forth like?
Hagerty: Michael, the chemistry with President Trump is always exciting. He’s a great businessman. He listens. He asks the opinion of everybody in the room. I was asked a question yesterday. One of the candidates in this campaign put out a press release about what the President ought to do with respect to a personnel issue.
Leahy: Yeah. By the way, we wrote a story about that and it struck me as kind of interesting that a Senate candidate who’s not yet been elected to something would provide personnel advice to the President. And specifically, he said that the President should fire Dr. Fauci.
Hagerty: I have provided personnel advice to the President. You know that it was my job after we won the election and before I went to Japan my job was to help the President put the cabinet together. My job was head of Presidential personnel during the transition. I have plenty of conversations like this with the President but what I do is pick up the phone and talk to him. I don’t issue a press release.
Leahy: You don’t issue a press release and issue here’s my advice to you, you really ought to follow it? (Chuckles)
Hagerty: No. I don’t think that’s appropriate for a Senate candidate. But it is appropriate for someone who has a long working relationship with the President and that’s how I work with him. I don’t have any anticipation of going to Washington and getting into Twitter wars or taking sides on CNN and MSNBC and FOX. My goal is to go there and be effective for the people of Tennessee.
And the way to do that is to build on the relationship that I’ve established with this President and this administration. And I’m ready to do that from day one because I’ve been a part of this administration. If I’m lucky enough today to be elected by the good people of Tennessee to be your Republican nominee, I have every confidence to we are going to keep pushing ahead through the election. And I’ll get there with a different currency than almost every other freshman Senator.
I will be the only person in the US Senate who’s actually worked with this administration fighting back against the deep state. Getting things to happen and pushing back against the bureaucracy that’s so difficult to navigate. I understand it and I’m ready to go. We are working on my punch list of things to do right now because as a member of the White House Economic Recovery Task Force were not going to get everything done with executive orders.
There is going to be a list of things that I’m focused on to get the economy reopened and it will go right to the top of my list of legislative priorities. Things like looking at our tax rate again. How do we lower it further? How do we make America the most competitive place in the world to invest capital? This is all part-and-parcel of getting our supply chains back home.
We’re going to be very targeted in this. I think you all know that we need to get our antibiotics back home. We need to get our medical supplies back home. There are a number of high technologies and rare earth materials that we are dependent upon China for. I want to get those back home as well. That’s all being worked right now. I’m going to be the person carrying that punch list right into the next legislative session if I’m fortunate enough to get elected.
Leahy: So what’s the campaign been like these past few days for you? Pretty hectic?
Hagerty: It’s been busy. It’s been exciting. We are getting great feedback on the trail. It’s clear Tennesseans want a candidate that puts law and order above everything else. They want to see our nation return to normal. Everyone knows I’m the law and order candidate in this race.
I’ve got support from Sheriffs all across the state. The President in his Tweets announcing my qualifications talks about how I’m going to be tough on crime and supportive of law enforcement from the very beginning. Look, I get it, Mike. My sister’s older brother – every day – puts on the uniform. He’s a career law enforcement officer.
He doesn’t know if he’s coming home at night. Our law enforcement officers are the only thing standing between our families and complete anarchy on the streets. I have a huge respect for them and I want to see them supported and respected. That’s my view on that and I want to get law and order back to be the norm of the nation.
Beyond that though, we are in the middle of a deep economic downturn. I’m the only person that has extensive business experience. I’ve been a businessman all my life. When I came into the state of Tennessee the last downturn.
Tennessee’s unemployment rate was above the national average when I came on board in January of 2011. We reorganized the department I was given. I cut over 40 percent of the positions. That’s fiscally conservative if there ever was one. We eliminated millions of taxpayer expenditures and reorganized the department and we started winning.
I was there for four years. Tennessee became the number one state in the nation for creating jobs through foreign investment. We want everything that’s made overseas and shipped here, we want it produced here. We were also named the state of the year for economic development for two of those years. Tennessee is now number one on every measure. Whether it be low unemployment, higher wage growth, and GDP growth.
Granted, we have further to go. And I called Governor Lee and Commissioner Ross and asked them to continue to make – particularly in our rural areas – that our rural workforce is well trained and ready to go. As we bring these jobs back from China our rural workforce can really be at a competitive advantage. And I want to see broadband technology expanded further so we have the ability to work in the 21st century all across our state.
Leahy: If somebody wants to see you today, where are you going to be for the rest of the day? I guess you are going to have an election-eve party tonight? Tell us what your schedule is today.
Hagerty: We are over in East Tennessee this morning. We are going to be making our way over to Brentwood mid-day. At three o’clock, we are going to be at Belle Haven Church. There is a big poll there. We’ll be working the polls at Belle Haven Church.
Leahy: Oh, that’s always fun. Do you stay 100 feet outside and people have questions outside and people can ask you questions as they go in?
Hagerty: Absolutely. Wave, ask questions. Everything. We are going to be there working the polls. And we are going to wind up tonight in my home town of Gallatin. I’m looking forward to celebrating victory there. My father is no longer with me but he’s looking down from heaven.
My mother is 88 and is going to be in a safe place nearby watching on television. And Chrissy and the family will be with me and with a number of friends. It’s going to be an exciting evening. I certainly invite you to be there Mike. The polls close at 7pm central time and 8pm eastern time today. And after the polls close I’m not sure how long it will take to tabulate the results but I’m looking forward to an exciting evening.
Leahy: What’s this campaign been like for your family?
Hagerty: It’s been great. It was great for them to be able to go with me to Japan. That was an adventure. We were over there serving our nation from 2017 thru 2019. One of the greatest experiences of our life. It brings you together as a family. Chrissy and I are blessed with four wonderful children.
They are now 11, 13, 15, and 17 years old. Coming back we’ve been on the campaign trail together and it’s brought us even closer. They are out fighting every day for their dad. They are volunteering. They are putting up signs. They are making phone calls. They are with me in presentations. It’s been a great experience bringing the family together and they are very excited for tonight as am I.
Leahy: Former ambassador Bill Hagerty on the ballot today in the Republican primary for US Senate. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Hagerty: Thanks, Michael. And for people looking for places to go vote and the nearest polling place go to www.teamhagerty.com and you’ll be able to find the closest place for you to vote. I encourage everyone on the line to turn out today. Let’s send a strong conservative message to the rest of the world that Tennessee values are conservative values. Thank you so much, Mike.
Leahy: Thank you, Bill.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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