CITIZEN TRIBUNE: Republicans gather to hear Blackburn, Roe

Citizen Tribune

By Wade Littleton

June 17, 2024

On a hot evening at Cherokee Park, the Hamblen County Republican faithful gathered Friday at Horner Daughterty Pavilion to feast, frolic and have fun in discussing the upcoming 2024 elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress and President of the United States.

As expected, incumbent U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, spoke first at the picnic because of having to return to Nashville. Blackburn termed her job as a “team sport.”

“We’ve been spending time working with county mayors (and) school boards,” Blackburn said. “We’ve been on farms, baled hay, been through manufacturing plants and we’ve had a great day. Representing people requires a partnership at the local, state and federal level.”

Blackburn said that she is in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties every year.

“How wonderful it is to work in partnership with our local and state elected officials,” she said. “Republicans have set the bar high for how you have well-managed cities, counties in the state.

Blackburn is confident that the country will send Donald Trump back to the White House in November.

“I don’t know about you, but I miss President Trump,” she said.

Blackburn discussed the inflation rate since the end of Trump’s term and the term of President Biden.

“When Trump left office, inflation was 1.4%,” she said. “Today, the inflation rate is 20.1%. You’re feeling it. When you go to fill up the gas tank, it’s a 54% increase. When you pay the (utilities) bill, you’re up 41%. Food costs is up 25%. Someone I talked to said that under Trump he had money left over at the end of the month. Under Biden, I’ve got too much month at the end of the money.”

When discussing the Southern Border, Blackburn said that 10 million illegal immigrants have crossed there in the last three years.

“That is more than the population of 38 of our states,” she said. “Think about that. I’ll bet you have hundreds of thousands of people from countries of interest which means their countries might have bad factions, gangs and terrorists (that have crossed). You have nearly 400 terrorists who have entered the country, but (the government) says that we have caught eight.

“We know who are the terrorists who have crossed the border. We need to know where they are,” Blackburn said. “There’s a pretty easy solution to this. Build the wall, secure the border. That’s what Trump is going to do.”

Blackburn said that after what has happened in Afghanistan, The Ukraine and Israel, our allies don’t know if they’re our allies and our enemies don’t fear America.

“They see Joe Biden as weak,” she said. “We have seen this just in Normandy for the D-Day (activities). We see this weakness on the global stage with the G-7 countries. We know not only the we as Americans are watching, but we know that other global leaders and our (enemies) are watching. When you think about the Axis of Evil (Russia, North Korea, Iran and China), they’re worried about what they are doing. When it comes to this global weakness, it falls over into our country. I think that many of you will say, ‘Enough with the antisemitic activity on our college campuses and we as the as the United States of America should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.”

Blackburn also said that the Biden administration has gone $7 trillion over budget in the last three years.

“We’re not going to get inflation down until we stop the out-of-control spending,” she said.

Other Biden policies include the pushing of transgenders into women’s sports.

“Women’s sports should be for women,” she said.

Also, members of the federal judiciary that appointed by President Biden have never served as a judge previously.

“I am on the Judiciary Committee and they are sending us nominees for the federal bench for the district and appellate courts,” she said. “They have not spent one minute as a judge.”

Blackburn also took exception with what the Biden administration has done with healthcare for veterans.

“When Roe was chairman of the VA Committee, we started pushing for legislation, the Mission Act, that would allow veterans to get healthcare in their committees where it was convenient,” Blackburn said. “The Union at the VA doesn’t like that too much. Under Biden, they’ve run up this backlog at the VA.”

Thanks to the Mission Act, the backlog was down to 12,000 cases, she said. Under the Biden administration, it has gone up to 1 million cases.

“This is what is happening with this administration,” she said. “It is going to be up to us to be sure that this election season, we don’t sit this one out. This year, I think this is really the most important election of our lifetime because of freedom. If we don’t win this, (what the Biden administration) is doing will become the norm.

“We can’t let that happen.”

Roe speaks

After a barbecue dinner, retired First District Congressman Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) spoke of the importance of local government.

“The best government you have is closest to you, local, state and federal,” he said.

Roe said that Congress voted Thursday to remove all of the DEI stuff out of the military.

“It’s a sad day when our military is more concerned about the pronoun and where you go to the bathroom than doing their job,” Roe said. “I can tell you, when I was in the Second Infantry Division, my job was to blow things up and kill people to protect this country.”

When Roe was asked how he kept his moral principles after 12 years in Washington, Roe said that he goes with some basic principles.

“I’m going to always support the military because they have allowed me to stay true and allow me to carry on with my life,” he said. “The sacrifice they gave, I’ll support them, no matter what. When you’ve served this great nation and come home, you’ve lost a limb, there’s not enough I can do for you. I want our veterans to get the best care that can be had on this planet.

“I support agriculture because I like to eat,” he said. “I’m also pro-life. I’ve spent my life as a gynecologist delivering babies and I’ll always be supportive of life.”

Roe has served on the Dole Board, founded by Elizabeth Dole, wife of the late Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), who was wounded in World War II and his arm severely damaged. Roe also served on the National Prayer Breakfast Board while in Congress.

“When Elizabeth Dole comes to your office and she wants you to serve men and women who have been injured in ways you cannot imagine, these folks provide incredible services for them and their caregivers,” Roe said.

Roe also participates in the Healthcare Freedom Fund.

“What we’re doing is identifying conservative folks in healthcare and how to get them elected to congress,” he said. “(Healthcare) is one of the biggest parts of our U.S. budget. Healthcare is very personal to all of us.”

He is part of the U.S./Israel Education Association.

“It’s a faith-based organization that puts congressional trips together for trips to Israel,” he said. “My wife, Brenda, and I spent Easter Sunday this year at the garden tomb where Jesus was resurrected. It was quite moving.”

Roe also went to Gaza where the Hezbollah war with Israel continues.

Roe said that it gives him no pleasure to see the health decline of President Biden.

“He does not need to be President of the United States,” Roe said. “I saw the other day on the White House lawn he froze up. What happens if he freezes up when 300 missiles are fired at the U.S.?”

Roe is also concerned about foreign policy under Biden.

“Foreign policy can get you killed,” Roe said. “Foreign policy can get you into wars you can’t get out of.”

Roe said that there is a “Ring of Fire” going on around Israel involving Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, all funded by Iran.

“We need to put the kibosh on them,” Roe said. “There is a simple way of doing that. Cut off their oil and their money and they’ll go away. We don’t have a President who has the will to do it. The State Department we have is atrocious, along with the leadership we have at the defense department. It’s really scary.”

Roe served as First District Congressman from 2009-21. He helped to improve healthcare for veterans and education. He served as a Major in the U.S. Army.

The picnic concluded with music by the “Republican Elected Officials Band,” consisting of Morristown Vice Mayor Tommy Pedigo, State Rep. Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown), Hamblen County Election Commission Chairman E.C. Reed, School Board Candidate Angela Smith, State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), his son Asher, Roe and Hamblen County Commission Chairman Chris Cutshaw. The group played and sang “I’ll Fly Away,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Wagon Wheel,” “Rocky Top” and concluded with “Amazing Grace.”