At the Brentwood Country Club on Wednesday, U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty told an audience of about 30 people that Tennessee “has a real choice to make” when it came to the Republican state primary election.
His appearance came on the same day Hagerty received an official endorsement from Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Williamson County resident.
Currently, the two highest polling Repuclicking here.blican Senate candidates in Tennessee are Hagerty and Manny Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon who in a recent poll was found to be neck and neck with Hagerty.
Speaking at the country club to members of the Republican Women of Williamson County, Hagerty argued that Sethi’s past record of ‘defending Obamacare,’ calling “socialized medicine as the answer for America” and applying to the White House Fellowships program under the Obama administration made him a ‘pretend conservative,’ and “not the answer for America.”
“Tennessee has a real choice to make: do you want to send a true conservative that you know will stand by our president, that you know will stand by Marsha Blackburn, or do you want to send somebody else,” Hagerty asked.
“Do you want to send somebody that just pretends to be a conservative? Somebody that only supports the president when it's politically convenient to do so?”
Hagerty continued, drawing attention to a 2018 letter that had laid some blame of the opioid crisis at Blackburn’s feet, a letter that was signed by Alex Jahangir and Jesse Ehrenfeld: two board members of Healthy Tennessee, a nonprofit started by Sethi in 2011.
“Would you want someone who formed an entity called Healthy Tennessee and recruited a board to it, and then in 2018 half of that board attacked Blackburn viciously in Democrat-funded attack ads,” Hagerty posed.
“Manny said nothing. He did nothing while his board was attacking Marsha viciously. What we have with Sethi is a person that's defended Obamacare, somebody that talks about socialized medicine as the answer for America - that is not the answer for America.”
Chaos, “weak-kneed Republicans” and law and order
Beyond his critiques of his Republican opponent, Hagerty touted himself as the clear choice to restore law and order to Tennessee and to the country at large.
“America's at a crossroads right now; if you turn on the TV, what do you see,” Hagerty asked.
“It's chaos, rioting and looting in the streets. This angry mob, they're trying to tear down our statues, erase our history, and if you disagree with them, they'll cancel you; they'll destroy your reputation, they'll destroy your business. I'm with President Trump: you burn our flag, you go to jail.”
The Democrats’ response to recent protests, Hagerty said, was “to defund and dismantle [the] police.” Hagerty said that, instead, America should “support [the] police 120%” and “defund Planned Parenthood.”
Even worse though, Hagerty argued, was what he called “weak-kneed Republicans who won’t stand up and do the right thing.”
“We've got Sen. Mitt Romney, so bitter after his loss, that now he's standing with Black Lives Matter, marching with them,” Hagerty said.
“This is a Marxist organization that wants to tear our nation apart by its very fabric. You've got Republican senators calling for removing Columbus Day from our calendar. What we need in the U.S. Senate is backbone.”
Hagerty then moved to single out Chief Justice John Roberts, who he said “sides again and again with the liberals on the [Supreme] Court.”
“He was the vote that upheld Obamacare, he stands with the abortionists, and his latest? Upholding Obama's unconstitutional executive order DACA, encouraging illegal immigration,” Hagerty said.
As the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Hagerty said that he had “stared China right in the eye militarily, diplomatically and economically” during his tenure, and was well equipped to “stand against” China, whom he called America’s “biggest threat.”
“When President Trump won, you know what he did? He sent me to Japan so I could do something about China,” Hagerty said.
“Why Japan? Because Japan is the place that houses more U.S. Military than any place else in the world. That's where we deal with North Korea and China.
“I've stared China right in the eye militarily, diplomatically and economically, and I can tell you, they're our biggest threat. China has increased their military expenditures eight-fold over the past several decades. They're militarizing the South China Sea - we have to stand against them.”
Furthermore, Hagerty said that, as senator, he would move to reduce economic dependency on China, as well as hold them accountable for “unleashing this virus on the world.”
Federal unemployment boost of $600 a “disincentive to work”
Having worked in private equity, and as a former economic advisor under the Bush administration, Hagerty leaned strongly on his business experience as a purported asset to the United State Senate, a government body that Hagerty argued had “too few business people” in it.
“The very first thing [I'll do when I get into office] is to focus on the list I'm building right now, the things that we're doing to get jobs in the economy going again,” Hagerty said.
“We have far too few business people in the U.S. Senate that understand - look no further than what they did with the unemployment $600 a week bonus. I watched this in complete disbelief - what business person would ever allow this to happen?”
The federal unemployment boost, which is set to expire this week, saw Americans receive an additional $600 a week in their unemployment benefits. Tied for having the fifth lowest weekly unemployment benefits, Tennesseans ordinarily receive a maximum of $275 a week.
Hagerty was critical of Congress for approving the additional unemployment payments, calling them a “disincentive to work.”
“They put a $600 a week bonus on the unemployment payments - in Tennessee, that translates to about $24 an hour,” Hagerty said.
“Two-thirds of the people that are taking unemployment here are making more than they were when they were working. There are help wanted signs all over this state - people aren't coming back to work because the U.S. Congress put a disincentive to work into the system.”
Hagerty previously served as Victory Chair for President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and later went on to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. In April of 2020, Hagerty was also handpicked by Trump as a leading member of the Economic Revival Group.
He received an official endorsement from Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn Wednesday as well.
Tennessee has an open primary system, allowing for any registered voter to vote in the primary election of their choosing, be it Republican, Democrat or otherwise.
The primary election in Tennessee will be held on Aug. 6, with early voting taking place between July 17-Aug. 1.
Those wanting to vote by mail must request an absentee ballot by July 30, and may request the absentee ballot online by clicking here.
The voter registration deadline was Tuesday, July 7. To see if you’re registered to vote, click here.