Hagerty says ties to President Trump part of his Senate run conversation with Tennesseans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Bill Hagerty says his ties to President Trump are part of the conversation he’s having with Tennesseans about running for U.S. Senate.

The now former ambassador to Japan who spent two years in the post before resigning this summer says “I have been back just a short time , but I have had chance to talk to a lot of Tennesseans so far.”

In an interview last week at his boyhood home in Gallatin, Hagerty was asked what he was hearing.

“One, I think Tennesseans are very pleased with the job President Trump is doing,” he said first. “Wages are going up. Business confidence is high. There is a lot more investment businesses are making.”

Hagerty says he’s also hearing concern about “Washington ideas” like the Green New Deal or what he calls “socialized medicine.”

He summed up the concerns by saying they are “socialist-Democratic” ideas “that go against my conservative principals and I think it concerns a lot of people in Tennessee.”

The ideas are targets of President Trump as well whose unusual tweet of support earlier this summer propelled Hagerty to frontrunner status in Tennessee’s U. S. Senate race even though the then ambassador had not announced a widely-expected run.

“I think the president had already made up his mind before I had a chance to realize he was going to do it,” said Hagerty during the Friday interview “But I think the president has made up his mind I would be a great U.S Senator.”

Hagerty was an early fundraiser for Donald Trump’s campaign and then a White House transition team member before the president named him to be the ambassador to Japan.

His two years in a diplomatic post near North Korea, Russia and China would likely be a selling point to voters 

“We have strong strategic interests in the region and I have worked very closely with our military leaders and with the leadership of Japan to greatly increase our inter-operability and our capabilities in the region,” said Hagerty. “And I would have to say that is the thing I am most proud of ” (during his time as ambassador), added Hagerty.

There were other areas Hagerty felt “we made a real difference” while ambassador.

“If you noticed the news from G-7 recently–the new trade deal that is coming through between Japan and the United States will significantly help our farmers and that is critically important now that China has been retaliating against American farmers.” added Hagerty. “I have had an incredibly deep role in that process.”

Hagerty listed those accomplishments while being asked if he could make more of a difference as a Tennessee U.S. Senator than his country’s ambassador to Japan. 

“So I think there is a possibility that I may make a greater difference (as Senator), ” said Hagerty. “That is going into my consideration right now.”

The former ambassador did not say if there’s a timetable for his Senate decision.

One top Republican who has announced his Senate run is Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi.

Nashville attorney James Mackler is the only top Democrat to say he is running for the seat that will be vacated by retiring Republican Senator Lamar Alexander. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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