FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday, Nov. 7, State Capitol Reporter Chris O’Brien sat down with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee while the pair rode on his campaign RV to his final stop in Franklin.

The pair talked about a myriad of subjects, including goals for the next four years, successes/disappointments from the last four, infrastructure, abortion and cannabis.

The Q&A is written out, in full, below.

Of note, News 2 did reach out multiple times to Dr. Jason Martin’s campaign to inquire about a similar one-on-one interview. As of this article’s publishing, there was no response.

Q: I’m going to start you off with a lightning round, loosen things up a bit. Some things about yourself… favorite color?

A: Orange.

Q: Favorite food?

A: Hamburgers.

Q: Favorite place to visit?

A: Jackson Hole.

Q: Who’s your hero?

A: Gosh… my dad.

Q: What’s a pet peeve you have?

A: Angry people (Lt. Gov. Randy McNally [R-Oak Ridge] says, ‘Don’t look at me!’ in the background). Angry people!

Q: Have you ever had a nickname besides Bill?

A: BB.

Q: BB, where does that come from?

A: That’s what my grandkids call me.

Q: Last one, who wins the National Championship in college football this year?

A: Tennessee.

Q: They’re still in it.

A: I know, they are, they are! They’re still in it.

Q: They still technically, I think, technically still control their own destiny. Alright, we’ll be a little more serious here. How are you feeling about tomorrow (Election Day)?

A: I’m excited. Tomorrow is an opportunity for the people to speak all across America, and here in Tennessee to speak to what they think matters in this state, and to confirm the leadership that we have in our state, and to confirm that the direction that we’re headed is the way we need to keep going.

Q: You’ve had a lot of success over the last four years… Blue Oval City, led us through the Waverly floodings. If you could pick one biggest successes, what would it be?

A: I think when I think about it, I really do think Tennessee has become a beacon to the country. Lowest taxes, lowest debt, best economy. There are things happening in this state that states across America wish they were happening in their state. So, it’s a culmination of things that have created an environment that’s attractive to the people of America and is especially beneficial to the people of our state.

Q: Of course, no success without disappointment. Is there any disappointment you could pick out that you would say was the biggest disappointment in the last four years?

A: I think the thing that’s been the hardest has been to walk through the difficulties that Tennesseans have had. Whether it’s the Waverly flood – which was tragic – tornadoes, drought that we’ve had and dealing with farmers on that. To see others struggle, it’s hard in the spot that I’m in, but yea, that’s been the toughest part.

Q: What’s one thing that you want to tangibly accomplish, that you can put your finger on and say, ‘This is what I want to accomplish over the next four years?’

A: I’m a guy who came from a skilled trades background, and I know how badly we need skilled workers across this country and in Tennessee as we attract more and more companies. Workforce development is incredibly important. The state with the workers is going to win in the future, and that means jobs for people too. It changes Tennesseans’ lives. I’ve been a big advocate for vocational and technical and agricultural education. I said when I ran I wanted to change the way high school looks, and I want to make sure we have pathways of success for kids of all type in this state. So, I hope that we have changed the education system, and therefore changed the lives of Tennessee’s young people.

Q: Education is always a big debate, there is no doubt about that here in Tennessee. That’s something I know you’ve run a lot on in the last four years, really the last year, more than anything. Changing a little bit on the topic here. I know you talked to Bob Mueller about this a little bit. Do you expect there to be any changes or do you want any changes to the abortion law that’s currently in place moving forward?

A: I think it’s really important, and I personally believe that we have an obligation to protect the lives of unborn children. We should do everything we can to protect those lives. At the same time, we should protect the life of the mother in the event of a serious maternal health condition, and we’ve done that with our piece of legislation. I’m satisfied with where our law stands now, I think it protects the unborn, it protects the mother and that’s where it should stay.

Q: There’s been a lot of backlash from doctors about the affirmative defense language. How do you assuage some of those concerns?

A: I think doctors make their best good faith judgment decisions every day in all sorts of categories of healthcare. And that’s what they will do in this case as well.

Q: Last question I have on abortion, when you talked to Bob, one of the quotes you said actually about COVID, was ‘When you let people take their own personal responsibility for their lives, that’s always the best decision.’ Now, you said that about COVID, what in your mind makes abortion different there?

A: I actually think we are considering the individual lives of every human being in this setting. So, you can make personal decisions unless you’re going to be harming another human life, and that’s the case with abortion. We need to protect those human lives, the dignity of the unborn, and that’s what we’ll do in Tennessee.

Q: Changing topics a little bit here. Prison reform is something that’s been very near and dear to your heart over the last four years. That’s something you ran on then, that’s something you continue to focus on now. Recidivism rates continue to be somewhat of an issue. What’s your plan on trying to bring some of those recidivism rates down?

A: If you look at the recidivism rate in Tennessee state prisons, they’ve actually fallen continuously over the last several years, and I believe they’ll continue to do that. You know, one of the most important things we can do is recognize that 95% of everyone that’s in a jail cell right now, regardless of how long they’ve been there, is going to get out. To the degree that we can make that transition to society more effective, then that’s the degree to which we will lower recidivism. We want people that re-enter society and not re-enter prison. We do so with programs for re-entry that changes people’s future as they leave prison and go out into our neighborhoods and our communities, and that creates a safer environment for everybody.

Q: Kind of related to that whole recidivism rate, marijuana – I know Bob and you talked a little bit on marijuana – that’s been a big issue, not only here in Tennessee but also nationwide. If the president continues to tout his marijuana reform and move that classification down a couple steps or a step or whatever the case may be… would you change your mind, at any rate, on your current thoughts on marijuana?

A: Well, I really believe we have a serious drug problem in this country. It’s been made significantly worse with the open border policy that we have, drugs are flowing in this country in record numbers. We do not need to be advocating for more drugs of any kind, illegal drugs in our communities. So, I’m opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana. Certainly if the federal laws change, that will impact the way states can respond to that. But I believe we have, we’re in a good spot in Tennessee. We ought to stay that way.

Q: Kind of the last question I have for you here, Governor Lee. You’ve had a long four years, potentially another long four years ahead of you. You’re ending your campaign in the same tour bus as when you started it. When you think about the last four years, you reflect on some of the time you’ve had, what runs through your mind?

A: Well, as I’ve said, it’s been the highest honor of my life to do this, to serve the people of Tennessee. The first day when I got on this RV, some five and a half years ago and started driving to all 95 counties and listening to them… at the time my desire was to use my life to impact their lives, individually, for good. I have that same desire today. I wake up thinking about how it is that we can implement change, that we can pass law, that we can create policy, that we can touch individual Tennessean’s lives, all Tennesseans, and make their life better. I think we can do that, I think we’ve done it over the last four years. We have a lot of work to do yet, and that’s why I want to continue for four more.

Q: Sorry, one last question I have for you. When you also think about your journey, you picture your wife next to you. When we did a story on your last election, she was the first one off the tour bus. What does it mean to you to have her going through this journey but also the (lymphoma) journey she’s also going on?

A: Yeah, we talked today. Really sad for her to not be with me on this bus tour. She can’t be because of the sickness that she’s dealing with right now. It’s been really hard, actually hard for both of us. But we’re in this together, we’re still in it together every day. We are trusting for healing for her, we know God can give that healing. We have great doctors. We have people all over the state – and I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people walk up to me and tell me they’re praying for Maria. She’s a remarkable woman, and she’s very strong, and we are very hopeful. So, I miss her right now, but we’re in this together and we will be for the next four years.

Q: Governor Lee, is there anything else you want to add that I have not asked you?

A: Well, I think Tennessee is a beacon to the country. To sit in the spot that I am and to see what Tennesseans have created and created a state that’s attractive to all of a America – that’s why so many people are moving here and so many companies are coming here – we live in the best state in the country, and I want to keep it that way.