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 Speaker Cameron Sexton to the newsmaker line.
At the end of the third hour, Sexton gave his thoughts about the presidential debate in Nashville Thursday night between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden and also discussed what he was seeing on the ground during his barnstorming tour through Tennessee.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our favorite barnstorming Speaker of the House here in Tennessee, Cam Sexton. Good morning, Cam.
Sexton: Good morning. How are y’all doing today?
Carmichael: Fine Cam.
Leahy: And the question, Cam, is where are you in Tennessee today?
Sexton: We just finished a stop in Loudon County and Loudon, Tennessee, and we’re on our way down to Cleveland. And then I have a long day and finish up in Murfreesboro tonight.
Carmichael: What are the two or three state Senate races that you would like to highlight?
Sexton: The state Senate. I think from what I understand from the Senate is the same as the House races. You know, the in the city areas are where the Democrats are going after our members. Obviously they are in Davidson County and Hamilton County. I think the two prime ones are on the Senate side and the House too. Shelby County, Hamilton, and Knox County and that’s where they’re trying to go at us on the House side.
Carmichael: Okay. All right, and do we feel good about our prospects there?
Sexton: We feel good. Yes, we do. We’re doing everything we can we’re you know, we’re barnstorming across the state of Tennessee as you said. And we have the resources necessary to help return all of our House members. We feel very confident at where we’re at as of today in the polling and everything going on, and we’re just trying to close it and not take anything for granted. And that’s why we’re barnstorming across the state of Tennessee as well.
Leahy: Now see if I’ve got this right Speaker Sexton. So is the current makeup in the Tennessee House of Representatives, is it 74 members who are Republican and 25 who are Democrats? Is that right?
Sexton: It depends on what you do with John DeBerry when they kicked him off the ballot as a Democrat. So it’s normally 73, 26. So you could say it was 73, 25, and one I guess.
Leahy: 73, 25, and one. Speaking of John DeBerry running as an independent, I know it’s not, particularly since he’s not a Democrat and he’s independent. Do we have any indication who’s going to win that seat the independent? John DeBerry has been there for 25 years?
Sexton: I have not. I don’t know. I know they’ve done some different things down there against John DeBerry by put his picture on billboards with Donald Trump and that’s worked as they try to pull out. So we’ll see if they’re successful and what they’re trying to do or not. What I will say though is I was able to greet the president yesterday and also go to the debate last night and I think the president had a wonderful night. And I think that’s going to help us with our members all across this state with the debate performance last night.
Leahy: I’ll tell you a little story about that. One of our regular guests here, Terry Nicholson was there greeting the president and she got really excited. The president was walking by and she was wearing a very nice hat apparently, and apparently, the president said to her very nice hat. And that made her day. It made her day. (Carmichael laughs) Did you get a chance to talk to the president?
Sexton: I did when he came off the plane we talked about the Law and Order Bill we that we passed in Tennessee and the mob and how the day after we passed it and they went home. And his comment was Tennessee’s a great state and we all stand for law and order. And then you’ve watched the debate last night.
I think it doesn’t matter what the issue was. I think President Trump handled every single issue. And one issue, at the debate hall, even when the Joe Biden supporters were in there and as Joe Biden was walking off the stage he turned and waved at his people in the audience and none of them even waved back at him. So I think that they weren’t proud of his performance last night.
Leahy: That’s a very interesting comment. It gets to this issue of enthusiasm. Are you seeing a lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket across the state as you campaign and do your barnstorming?
Sexton: Yeah, I mean absolutely, and I think Peggy Noonan had an article today in The Wall Street Journal where she talks about the difference between Trump and thousands turning out North Carolina. And Joe Biden has a dozen cars show up and no one is lining the streets for him. And they’re trying to play it off as the virus. But at some point, people are going to turn out if they love their candidate like they love President Trump. And so we do have enthusiasm in our state and we’re delivering the message. There’s a lot of people. And the voting turnout in the state of Tennessee for Republicans is higher than it’s ever been before.
Carmichael: Is it true that the only cars that showed up at the Biden event where self-driving cars? (Laughter)
Sexton: Well based on his last night comments where he’s going to take oil away from us and fracking, I’m assuming that he’s going to have to put some charging stations or something out there as he goes through. But I think that was a colossal mistake for him last night. And some of those swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. I think he didn’t do himself any good last night.
Leahy: As a veteran of the political arena, when when you heard Joe Biden say basically he wants to end the oil industry did that strike you as perhaps one of the biggest political mistakes that he’s made in this campaign?
Sexton: Yes. I mean absolutely because that hurts him in the swing states. That puts us more reliant on foreign entities outside of our country. And of course, you know, there are issues with that. And I think the other thing last night those very interesting was when the president kept pressing him on why he hasn’t done anything for 48 years and he blamed it on having Republicans in Congress.
And if you look in the debate hall, I watched the replay later the camera zoomed out and there’s like five seconds of silence, which is like two minutes. And President Trump just looked at him and goes, Joe, you’ve got to work with people. You gotta twist the arm. I got things passed because I’d worked with the Democrats and twisted their arms to pass things.
Leahy: I agree with you speaker Sexton. A very powerful moment. I mean you’re in the legislature, right? Sometimes you’ve got to have the executive use their power and authority to persuade legislators to their point of view.
Sexton: That’s right. You have to be willing to work with other people and work on all sides because sometimes you know, you just want to get as many votes as you can to show bipartisanship that’s possible. You know, unfortunately, on the law and order Bill we passed we only had two Democrats to vote for it, but we had enough Republicans wanting to support it to take on the mob here in Tennessee. So the times like that you need to just power through.
But there are times where you really do need to work together. And I don’t think Joe Biden’s ever done that. I think he just wants to sit back and have it come to him. And you know, do you want a President who’s a fighter who believes America’s greatness is still ahead of us, or do you want someone who just wants to sit back and let it happen.
Leahy: Speaker Cameron Sexton finishing up the barnstorming tour in Murfreesboro tonight. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Sexton: Thank you. Have a great day.
Listen to the 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.
Background Photo “Debate Stage” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0.