Does the road to the White House go through Knoxville?

Knoxville attracts potential Republican presidential candidates.

governor of florida Ron DeSantisa Republican running for re-election against a Democrat charlie christwill speak here on Wednesday, September 21 at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Copper Cellar West.

The private event is “sold out at 140”, Susan Richardson Williamslongtime GOP loyalist who helped organize the luncheon, said Thursday.

And the former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley did more than pick up a Patriot Award at the Congressional Medal of Honor celebration in Knoxville a week ago. She spoke at a Republican fundraising event for U.S. Representatives. Tim Burchet and Diana Harshbargerwhere she was described as a potential presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

Patriot Award recipient Nikki Haley at the Patriot Awards gala hosted by the Medal of Honor Convention at the Knoxville Conventional Center on Saturday, September 10, 2022.

“I hope to see her on a national ticket very soon,” said Burchett, a Knoxvillian who represents the 2nd Congressional District, during a barbecue in a barn at the West Knox home of the developer and former county commissioner. Knox. Scott Davis and his wife, HopeSeptember 10.

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The DeSantis fundraiser is also organized by Sherri Parker Lee, a longtime GOP supporter. Williams said Lee “got the ball rolling” because his son, Baxtera former congressional candidate in Nashville, knows someone in the Florida governor’s office.

The cost to attend DeSantis’ private luncheon is $500 per couple, $1,000 for the host and $2,500 to be included in a photo with the governor, Williams said.

Last weekend, Haley was accessible to Republicans wishing to meet her at a reception at the Davis home before the barbecue at $500 per couple/person. But the former South Carolina governor also mingled with the barn crowd who paid $50 per person to attend.

Harshbarger, a Republican from Kingsport, told the crowd she got to know Haley after she took office in 2021. She said Haley invited newly elected women in Congress to a “girls night” to talk what the federal government does and how it works.

Haley didn’t address being a presidential candidate, but she seems to have covered a number of bases in case she does. She told the barbecue crowd she visited with the former governor. Bill Haslam and his wife, crissy, before coming to the Davis showplace. All Bill Haslam had to say later about the visit was that “Nikki stopped by our house to say hello while she was in town”. He responded to an email request for comment.

Haley told the 150 Republicans gathered in the barn that voting in November was important, citing rising gas, food and utility prices. She blamed Democrats for “spending out of control” and only interested in “raising more taxes.” She said she “crosses the country” to help elect Republicans to Congress and as governors.

She also spoke of being the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States legally from India. She said her parents were “offended” by immigrants coming to the United States illegally.

His original name was Nimrata Nikki Randhawa and she was born in South Carolina. She married Michael Haley in 1996 and served in the South Carolina House of Representatives before being elected governor in 2011. She served as a United Nations ambassador under the GOP chair. donald trump in 2017-18.

His speech, a day before the anniversary of September 11, reminded the audience of the four coordinated suicide attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 by the extremist Islamist network al-Qaeda against the United States.

“Do you remember how comfortable life was on September 10? Do you remember where you were on 9/11? On September 12, we all loved each other. We care about America,” she said.

But these feelings of unity do not exist today and a “national self-hatred must end.” We are not a racist country,” she said to spontaneous applause.

Trump’s name was not mentioned publicly at the event, although he continues to make headlines with various federal investigations and campaign on behalf of candidates supporting his lies about winning the presidency against the Democratic president. . Joe Biden in 2020.

Haley received the Patriot Award at the Medal of Honor Gala on September 10. Williams said she attended that event as a guest of the state senator. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, and that Haley didn’t talk about electing Republicans but gave a “tremendous” speech about patriotism. Williams said she thinks Haley is a potential presidential candidate, “but I don’t think she’s going to run against Trump.”

Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida on September 16.  The Governor of Florida will speak at a private event in Knoxville on Wednesday, September 21.

Attendees at Haley’s barbecue and reception contributed to the East Tennessee Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Burchett for Congress, his Volunteer Issues PAC, Diana for Congress, and his Tennessee Tough PAC. The profits are to be divided between the two members of Congress or their PACS.

(Disclosure: I attended the fundraising barbecue as Burchett’s guest. When trying to pay for tickets for a friend and I, I was told we were his guests. I agreed because no condition was imposed on how to cover the event.)

DeSantis is making headlines with his conservative approach to governance, which makes him attractive to many Republicans as an alternative to Trump if the former president is not seeking re-election. The latest news he made was sending two migrant planes to Texas on Wednesday at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, arguing for the action as migrants to be cared for by states or communities that agree to care of them, and not of border states which do not. I don’t want them. Democrats in Florida and Massachusetts were reported by national media as furious with the decision.

Williams was asked what she thinks of DeSantis’ action with migrants.

“Obviously we have a problem. I have to give kudos to him and the governor. Greg Abbott (from Texas) for doing something smart,” she said.

LISTEN TO THE OTHER SIDE: Former Governors of Tennessee. Phil Bredesena democrat and Bill Haslama Republican, try to draw attention to the tips of fire Howard H. Baker Jr.former U.S. senator from Huntsville, Tennessee, who said it’s possible the other person is right in politics, so it’s important to listen to that point of view.

Former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, second from left, and former Republican Governor Bill Haslam, right, chat with members of the public before a discussion on bipartisanship at Vanderbilt University on November 5, 2019 in Nashville .  The two started a podcast titled "You may be right."

Baker, also White House chief of staff and U.S. ambassador to Japan, said the following during a 2010 event with the former president Jimmy Carter, a democrat: “In politics, the competition of ideas, the competition for the right to serve, it is fundamental and it is political. But this must be accompanied by a decent respect for the other’s point of view. Because if you don’t, the whole system falls, it collapses, if you don’t admit that the other person can be right from time to time.

Bredesen and Haslam last week launched a podcast distributed by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, which is designed to have more civil conversations about policy issues than we have in this country.

The podcast is called “You Might Be Right”, with the first episode, about gun violence, featuring Arne Duncanformer U.S. Secretary of Education, who founded a nonprofit organization, Chicago CRED, which aims to reduce gun violence in his hometown, and David Frencha political commentator who advocates for red flag laws as a path to gun violence reduction.

The podcasts are the result of a discussion between the two UT governors two years ago, where they had an honest conversation with each other about their administrations and the issues they faced, said Marianne Wanamaker, director of the Baker Center. The two men get along well and respond well to each other, she says. “It works, it’s fun,” she says.

The two governors were also featured last week in a panel at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., on “Civility, Understanding, and a Sense of State.” The Baker Center was a sponsor.

Haslam today said leaders tend to ‘read the room’ to determine what is going on, see people who are ‘angry and angry’ and react accordingly. He said he and Bredesen would like to help leaders “understand the other side.”

Bredesen said people get into politics for different reasons. Many are there for selfish reasons and benefits, he said, but many are there for the “right reason”. They want to do the right thing. They really want to solve the problems.

The podcast will tackle other controversial topics like climate change and the national debt, and feature people who may have held public office but no longer do, like the former vice president Al GoreDemocrat and former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, and Paul Ryanretired Wisconsin congressman who was Speaker of the House and GOP running mate.

WHY VOTE?: A panel discussion on this topic will be held Wednesday, September 21 at UT’s Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Ave., ahead of the November 8 federal and state general elections.

bill lyondirector of political partnership for the center and an expert on American politics and voting behavior, will discuss the topic with the chairman of the Knox County Board of Elections Hannah HopperVice Mayor of Knoxville Andre Roberto and Knoxville City Councilor Lynn Fugate.

The program runs from 5-6:15 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Georgiana Vines is a retired associate editor of News Sentinel. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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Edward L. Robinett