Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to highlight Monday nights Maury County Reagan Dinner in Columbia, Tennessee.
Leahy: Aaron was at the big debate last night in Maury County. Aaron Gulbransen, set the stage for us. Where was the event? How many people were there, and what transpired?
Gulbransen: Oh, gosh. It was the Maury County Republican … I’d say oh, gosh, because I was thinking of the crowd … Maury County Republican Reagan Dinner was the setting for it. And so you had Congressman Mark Green there.
Leahy: So it was in Maury County.
Leahy: In Columbia. Was it the Athenian? Where was the venue?
Gulbransen: Downtown Columbia. I worked a lot yesterday.
Leahy: I think you wrote like, about 25 stories, something like that. By the way, it was impressive, I think it was like seven or eight stories. Yeah, it was. It was like in one day.
Gulbransen: It’s more than the reporters for The Tennessean do in a week.
Leahy: Boom shaka laka. I love that. That’s a great line. Not only that, each of those stories was better, more in-depth, more straightforward, and more honest.
Gulbransen: And more widely read.
Leahy: (Laughs) True.
Gulbransen: I’m feeling foggy today. But anyway, it was great. The Reagan dinner was packed out. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there. There was no more space in the room, which is a good thing for a fundraiser.
The party pledged to give $30,000 or so to support Republican candidates in the fall, which is a good thing. You had all nine candidates on the stage at the same exact time. I’m pretty sure they’ve been in a room all together before, but they’ve never been on a stage together.
Leahy: Actually, all nine of those candidates and then the three disqualified were actually at the Wilson County Trump Day dinner back in April. But now there are nine qualified candidates.
I’ll see if I can go through the list. I’ll go through the list here right now. Beth Harwell, Andy Ogles, Jeff Beierlein, retired Brigadier General Kurt Winstead, Tres Wittum, Stewart Parks, Geni Batchelor, Tim Lee, and Natisha Brooks. That’s the crowd.
Gulbransen: Right. So they were asked a variety of questions. Listen, the bottom line is, when you’re watching all of these things, there’s not going to be a whole lot of daylight in between their stances on the issues as far as a Republican primary and a conservative district is concerned.
So it’s really like a stylistic thing and a tactical thing. You had some interesting things, like Geni Batchelor, for example. Her standout moment and the thing was being different than everybody else when she was asked who her favorite congressperson was. And she picked Elise Stefanik, which is interesting on so many levels.
Leahy: Elise Stefanik is from upstate New York, actually; a Republican, was kind of John Boehner’s golden girl if you will, I suppose. And now has risen through the ranks as like a third- or fourth-highest member of the GOP leadership.
Gulbransen: Right. And she’s adopted President Trump’s, shall we say, bombastic style of campaigning and rhetoric. However, she still remains a moderate.
Leahy: Her voting record is moderate. Joe’s smiling. You’ve seen this story before.
Carr: She succeeded Liz Cheney, so she had to be picked by leadership to take Liz Cheney’s place. That turned out to be a big nothing-burger for Republicans.
Leahy: Turned out to be?
Carr: A turncoat. A turncoat at best.
Leahy: So that was a good moment. What other moments at that debate stood out?
Gulbransen: Well, Beth Harwell calling for the abolition of the Department of Education was one of those. She did that on several occasions.
Leahy: Well, most of the candidates have done that, by the way, haven’t they? I see a quizzical look on Joe Carr’s face now when we say that.
Carr: Michael, if you remember, you and I were talking about that in 2014.
Leahy: We were.
Carr: And I don’t remember the Speaker taking that position.
Leahy: She’s converted to that position.
Carr: It sounds like it. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Joe, one of the missions is, you know what I’ve done with this program? Every time I have a member of the Tennessee General Assembly in, I ask him that question.
And do you favor the abolition of the Federal Department of Education? When I started asking that question four years ago, I get a lot of hemming and hawing, but now virtually everyone says yes.
Carr: So just to be, so the audience knows, in 2013, 2014, you and I were very clear. Abundantly clear on that issue.
Leahy: Yes. In favor of it. So people moved in our direction.
Carr: Isn’t that funny.
Gulbransen: No, you’re perfectly fine. Of course, most of the people said that Mark Green was their favorite congressman. That’s why I thought about Elise Stefanik.
Leahy: Because he was there.
Gulbransen: Because he was there. It was the most politically correct thing to do.
Leahy: Geni Batchelor is going to say, no, not you, Mark Green. My congressman, Andy Ogle, said Jim Jordan, he’s been endorsed by the House Freedom Fund.
Leahy: Jim Jordan, so that makes sense.
Gulbransen: Most of them play the safe route and said, oh, that guy over there, Mark Green, which, I mean, he’s a perfectly good congressman. So that was also a fair thing, and a very good guy.
The entertaining thing, because a lot of people will listen to these who are deciding who to vote for. A lot of these people have their minds made up as they observe everything. For me personally, I get to write about it and report on it and report what happened.
I also take entertainment value over some of it. So when they were talking about impeachment and they were asked that question, you had half of the crowd on the stage – because there’s none of them that is kind of a crowd – say yes, they were in favor of the impeachment of Joe Biden for X, Y and Z reasons.
And then you had the other half remind everybody else that if you get rid of Joe Biden, you get Kamala Harris.
Leahy: So that was a point of distinction between Andy Ogles, who was in favor of impeaching Biden, and Mayorkas, and I think they threw in a couple of others there. But Beth Harwell said no. So that’s a distinction between Andy and Beth, who are probably the frontrunners.
Listen to the interview:
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