Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star’s national political editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to discuss his attempt at an in-person interview with Beth Harwell Tuesday night at the VIEW PAC fundraiser in Washington after her absence at The Epoch Times Nashville debate.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, the very best Washington correspondent in the country, the national political editor of The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network, Mr. Neil W. McCabe. Good morning, Neil.
McCabe: Hey, Mike. You have kind of a morning zoo vibe this morning. This is fantastic.
Leahy: Yeah, we’re going with that vibe a little bit. So listen, speaking of morning zoos and evening zoos, last night there was a debate in Nashville, really the first debate hosted by The Epoch Times.
The others have been candidate forums for the TN-5 race. Only three of the leading five candidates showed up: Jeff Beierlein, Andy Ogles, and Tres Wittum.
Two of them dodged the debate. One of them, Brigadier General Winstead, had apparently accepted and then backed out on Saturday.
The line from Jeff Beierlein at the debate, by the way, was that this was the first time in Tennessee history that a general has run from a fight. I thought that was a pretty good line at The Epoch Times debate last night.
But also, now, Beth Harwell, the former Speaker of the House here in Tennessee, never accepted this invitation and was busy elsewhere.
She was busy, actually, in Washington, D.C., had a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a fundraiser of sorts at a group called VIEW PAC.
You were there in Washington, D.C. You tried to get her to talk to you at the fundraiser. Describe what happened then and subsequently.
McCabe: Yeah, well, we were camped out in front of the Capitol Hill Club, which is sort of the social hub for Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly the congressmen.
And it’s really where these bachelor congressmen get their one hot meal for the day, and geographically bachelor, I should say. And so we were out there and we were trying to talk to people and, you know, hey, are you up [for us] to see Beth Harwell? We’re with The Tennessee Star.
And then a functionary from the Harwell campaign came out to the sidewalk and said, hey, man, you’re really bothering people. You’re making The Tennessee Star look bad. And I’m just giving you some advice.
I’m not telling you what to do, but you should stop asking people questions about Beth Harwell. And I’m thinking, okay, guy. Thanks.
I always appreciate career advice. You know that, Mike. (Leahy chuckles) But he told us, he said, listen, we’ll bring Beth down after the event, and just stop harassing our guests.
Yes, sir. Okay. I don’t know if we’re going to call it a compromise. Maybe it was a truce. And so after the event wraps up at 6:00 p.m., of course, outside on the sidewalk, we can’t bring our cameras into the Capitol Hill Club to film. They did allow us to hang out in the lobby because this biblical rainstorm was coming down.
But we had permission to film under this sort of roof canopy that they have that extends into the sidewalk from the door. And our trusted videographer Anthony is ready to go, but the guy comes down and says, hey, sorry, we got to go.
I said, what do you mean? You said you’d come down and do an interview. He goes, yeah, but it’s raining outside. I said, no, they got the canopy. We considered the canopy.
He goes, no, our Uber is here. We got to go. And so what are you going to say about a campaign that’s more worried about their Uber than talking to The Tennessee Star, Mike?
Leahy: Yes, well, and again, we did, give the campaign advance notice that we’d be there, and I think it was relevant to say, well, you chose not to participate in this debate in the 5th Congressional District. She didn’t back away from it after making a commitment, as Winstead did.
But there were a number of questions to be asked, I thought, one of which I think this event, the VIEW PAC event, right? Was that the name of the group that was doing the fundraising?
McCabe: Before I go into VIEW PAC, let me just say for the record that she did call me.
Leahy: Oh, she did?
McCabe: And so we did have a seven or eight-minute conversation. She answered the questions, I was recording it, and she agreed to go off speakerphone, which is making [the recording] like crazy.
But she answered the questions and I asked her about VIEW PAC, and I mentioned to her that VIEW PAC has received donations from a man named Tim Ranney, who was fined $8 million for illegal use of credit reports.
I don’t exactly know how he did that, but it was worth an $8 million fine. He gave $200,000 in this cycle to VIEW PAC. Another contributor is abortion philanthropist Melinda Gates who has also given to VIEW PAC, and I mentioned this to the speaker.
You’ve accepted the support. Obviously, this event was sponsored by VIEW PAC and her response was, well, Marsha Blackburn accepts money from this abortionist and this guy who paid an $8 million fine for abusing credit reports. So what’s the big, I guess.
Leahy: Did you feel like, and you’re going to have a report on this, do you feel like that she answered your questions and you got good responses from her?
McCabe: I asked her about how they handled illegals driving in Tennessee, and I thought that was a reasonable answer. She said that she was not beholden to the teachers’ unions, which is one of the knocks against her. She talked about why she’s going to come to Washington and fight Biden’s economic policies.
Leahy: Did you ask her why she didn’t show up at the debate?
McCabe: No, I didn’t ask her that. That was a swing and a miss.
Carmichael: Neil, I have a question for you. When you asked her about …
McCabe: Hold on, Crom, I do want to say one more thing. She did say, which would probably be my headline and lead, she said that she’s lived in the district and she loves the district and its people. Go ahead, Crom.
Carmichael: That’s good. Did you ask her about the $5 billion of tax cuts that she got through as Speaker of the House. And what was her response to that?
McCabe: I didn’t ask her that question.
Carmichael: Oh, you didn’t? Okay. Did you ask her about her repeal, where she co-authored the repeal of the legislation to take away the driver’s licenses from illegal immigrants? Did you ask her that?
McCabe: I asked her about the driver’s license …
Carmichael: No, did you ask her about her repealing it? Because she co-authored …
McCabe: She led the fight to take it away. It was tried, it didn’t work, and she brought her out and she brought it into the program.
Carmichael: Okay, but you didn’t mention that a moment ago. Did you ask her about that? About how hard a fight it was to get that repealed?
McCabe: I didn’t ask her how hard the fight was.
Carmichael: It was a very difficult fight. It was a very difficult fight. She fought against a special interest on that, but she got it done, Neil, so it’d be really good when you’re going to attack a Republican that you get the whole story out. I think that’d be great.
Leahy: I don’t think Neil was attacking.
McCabe: Hold on, Crom. First of all, this is not an American courtroom. What’s going on here? I didn’t put missiles in Cuba, Crom. Come on, man. I’m just doing my job.
Carmichael: Okay. And I’m just doing mine, which is to make sure people know all the facts.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer in studio to describe how candidates can win Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District and explained the mindset of voters.
Leahy: We are joined in studio by our longtime friend, good friend Clint Brewer. Recovering journalist and public affairs expert. Clint now, as somebody who’s seen lots of congressional races in Tennessee, what is a candidate going to have to do to win that primary?
Remember, there’s a primary and a general. We haven’t talked and we won’t talk until later about the Democratic primary. But it looks like the Justice Democrats are going to back AOC. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, that crowd.
They’re going to back Odessa Kelly. I think she’s still going to run. By the way, one just as an aside, a very sad, sad note, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leaving Twitter. And the reason is because it’s causing her too much anxiety. I’m so sorry about that.
Brewer: Causing her anxiety?
Leahy: Because when she’s seen without a mask at a party, people make fun of her and she just can’t take it anymore. (Chuckles)
Brewer: I don’t know what to do about that one.
Leahy: Now, but you do know what to do about what these candidates need to do to win in the August 2022 Republican primary in the Fifth Congressional District.
Why don’t you lay out what the old district was, what the new district is, and why this is a good thing for Republican candidates.
Brewer: The old district was Davidson County and a little spillover into some other satellite counties to the north. It was primarily a blue county, blue district, a little bit of purple in there. It’s why you had Jim Cooper in it for so long.
Blue Dog Democrat to the left enough to keep the progressives at bay, to the center enough, where he wasn’t super objectionable to the right. He kind of flew below the radar screen. This new district is interesting.
You’re going to pick up aspects of Davidson County. There’s sort of older parts of Davidson County. Hermitage, Old Hickory, Donelson, sort of that little curve below at the bottom.
And then you pick up Western Wilson County, which is very conservative, but it’s got a lot of new people moving into it. And you’re getting a slice of Williamson County where you’re going to see a similar aspect with maybe a little bit more wealth.
And then you get into Maury County and there’s all of Maury County and it is very much a county in transition. It’s booming, absolutely booming. Again, more new folks. And then you pick up a couple of smaller rural counties.
Leahy: Marshall County and Lewis County.
Brewer: Marshall and Lewis. You’ve got to think about it. The slice of Davidson County that’s left is very much a sort of old-school yellow Dog Democrat from back in the day kind of piece.
You got a lot of older folks there who maybe were affected by NAFTA. You’ve got some plants that shut down there over time. I’m thinking about the Dupont plant in particular, which was downsized. You see a lot of that, but they’re still Democrats.
You also have a ton of new people. You have parts of it that are very much in transition. If you look at the census, you have a real influx of immigrants. You have an influx of first-time homeowners and people who are first-time college graduates.
It’s an incredibly interesting mix. Not necessarily bad for the Republican candidate if you look at how Trump overperformed in some of those categories last time. Davidson County still has to be a focus.
You still have to run on the ground in Davidson County. Wilson County has been a rock-ribbed Republican county for a long time, but a lot of people aren’t going to know where they live. Williamson County, the same way.
And then you get out into Maury County in these rural counties, and you’re going to have to act like an adult, I guess is the best way to say it. Some of the bomb-throwing we’ve seen, some of the silliness that we’ve seen early on, some of the sorts of lack of process, I guess I would say with jumping out there with a presidential endorsement and then jumping out there with, I voted in the primaries.
No, I didn’t vote in the primaries. Kind of from these two transplants, it’s not behavior that’s going to be particularly well-received.
Leahy: No it won’t be. And by the way, before we get into that, and we’ll kind of look at the strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates. One announced, one endorsed, three or four likely.
I think there’s a hurdle for the transplanted carpetbaggers to clear. And that hurdle will be discovered probably next week or the week after they pick up their papers to petition, papers to get the signatures to get on the ballot Monday, and then sometime shortly after Monday.
If Morgan Ortagus announces, then she will be almost certainly challenged. Her bona fides. And Robby Starbuck’s bona fides will absolutely be challenged. Robby will not meet the standard of three out of four of the most recent statewide primaries. Morgan might not.
We haven’t seen her voting record. You have the president endorse you and nobody knows what her voting record is. And then even if she’s voted wherever she’s lived for the past four years or however long, even if she’s voted in three out of four primaries there, it’s unclear right now. There’s some dispute as to whether or not they’d be accepted as a state.
Brewer: Well, let me say this. Let’s just set Mr. Starbuck aside. I would like to see Ms. Ortagus in the race, and I’ll tell you why. She’s a very qualified person, and I’m not expressing a preference here, but I would like to see her compete for the seat.
And I would like to see it because I would like to see the transplant audience, if you will, the new folks represented in a way in this, because it’s going to be a marriage of old and new in this seat.
I think there is room in the debate about who should lead the Fifth District and who should represent it in Congress. I think there’s room. As someone who’s lived there for a very long time.
I think there’s room for that voice in the race. She’s a serious person. These folks want, serious representation. They care about the issues.
They are very hard-working people. It’s a very diverse district. It does trend plus-11 Trump based on the last election. These are folks who care and I think that they deserve serious representation and somebody who speaks with an adult voice.
Leahy: My view would be a little different on that because in that particular case, first, if we talked about this before and I’m still trying to get the data on it, 750,000 people in the district. Let’s say 90 percent of them have lived here for more than two years.
Brewer: That’s a stretch.
Leahy: 85 percent have lived here more than two years.
Brewer: Of likely Republican voters of the 750,000.
Leahy: Probably plus or minus around there. Ninety-nine percent of them have lived here more than have been registered voters for more than two months. So my argument would be I don’t think that one percent that’s just arrived here lately, I don’t think they need a voice.
Brewer: Here’s the thing. If they don’t have a voting record in the state, I don’t mean the candidates, the new voters, it’s hard to track them.
Leahy: Good point.
Brewer: It’s hard as a campaign to go back and look and say they’ve got a voting record that trends this way or that way. There’s a lot of unknowns.
Leahy: I think the point on this is both of them will face challenges.
Brewer: You’re talking procedural.
Leahy: Procedural challenges to getting on the ballot. And I think somebody will have to vouch for Robby. For sure, possibly for Morgan.
And then there’s a special committee, 13 members of the executive committee. The majority will go up or down. I don’t think it’s looking very good for Robby.
Brewer: I want to hear the debate, though. I want to hear what she would bring to the table. And I think that former Speaker Harwell I think Mayor Ogles are being very respectful right now of the process. They’re waiting for the governor to sign the redistricting bill.
Brewer: They’re doing what you do when you understand how politics work in Tennessee. They’re not running out into traffic and saying follow me. I think the complexion of the race will change a lot when we start to hear from folks like that.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “People Voting” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed GOP candidate for Nashville’s Fifth District, Robby Starbuck in studio to discuss his top two priorities if elected to Congress in 2022.
Leahy: In the studio with us, Republican congressional candidate Robby Starbuck, running for the Republican nomination in the Fifth Congressional District. We asked you this question before the break, Robby. If elected to Congress and sworn in January of 2023, what would be your number one legislative priority?
Starbuck: I’ve written two already that would be immediately put forward. Number one would be banned Critical Race Theory, not just in public schools, but also if you want a government grant, you want a government contract, you cannot train your employees with Critical Race Theory, and you cannot impose it on anybody within your business.
Leahy: Now that is a very good idea, number one. And what you’re combining, it’s interesting, the way you’ve structured. It’s not just banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory.
But what you’ve done there is you have incorporated in the legislative proposal Donald Trump’s executive order that banned federal funding for contractors that taught critical race, of course, the legal but not legitimate occupant of one those hundred Pennsylvania Avenue to Biden. One of the first things he did was to reverse that executive order.
Starbuck: And every other executive order.
Leahy: That particular idea, I think, is very, very interesting. And so that would be the bill that you would introduce.
Starbuck: That I would introduce right away.
Leahy: That would be your number one priority.
Starbuck: It’s essential to freedom. Education helps define what our national identity is. And so if we’re educating our kids to hate our country, then guess what? In 20 years, our national identity is going to be hating our country.
Leahy: By the way, that’s what public schools are doing right now.
Starbuck: 100 percent.
Leahy: They’re teaching kids to hate America, and your tax dollars are paying for it.
Starbuck: And we’re the adults and it’s our job to step in and stop it. And so that’s why that would be the first thing. The second thing would be a very simple immigration bill that says if you come here illegally, you will never, ever be allowed to become a citizen of the United States, and you will never be entitled to benefits.
Obviously very small caveats to that. If you’re being hunted down by your government or something along those lines, then maybe we have a different path.
Leahy: Well, there’s existing law for allows for asylum,
Starbuck: For true asylum. But there’s a process.
Starbuck: Exactly. There has to be a process. Merit-based. But our big problem with immigration is we’ve changed everything from incentivizing legal behavior to incentivizing illegal behavior.
When you have the Democratic candidates, now the person occupying the White House saying, we’re going to give you free health care, free this free that free everything. And then they act shocked when you have the borders getting flooded on a daily basis.
Obviously, they’re not shocked. They knew what that was going to do. We have to incentivize legal behavior again, which means saying, hey, if you ever want to be in America legally, you need to do this the right way, because if you do it one time the wrong way, you’re not going to be able to ever become a citizen here.
That will change the migration patterns right away. I’m not saying it’ll stop it, but it will change that pattern.
Leahy: Let’s talk a little bit about how successful such legislation would be. Now in the current makeup of Congress, where the Democrats have a nine or 10 vote margin and Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House, such legislation would go nowhere. She wouldn’t even bring it forward.
Starbuck: She wouldn’t bring it forward or allow it to be.
Leahy: If Republicans maintain a majority, that legislation would have a chance. What do you think the odds are that the Republicans will win back the House of Representatives in November 2022?
Starbuck: We are going to win back the House in 2022. The Senate, I’m not making any promises, but the House I feel 1000 percent that we are going to take the House in 2022.
The energy on that level and just the wind is in our sails in many ways in terms of redistricting happening. And you saw a bunch of blue states lose districts as part of the census consuming New York. And people have fled their States.
Leahy: California lost one district.
Starbuck: And New York lost one or two. I don’t remember if it was one or two. I’d say it was I think seven states that lost seats were blue states and they went almost entirely red.
Leahy: We kept the nine congressional districts, but probably were right on the edge of adding a 10th.
Starbuck: Yeah, we right on the edge. And I would guess that in 10 years we’ll add another one.
Leahy: I think you’re probably right about that. Now, our listeners looking at this could say, you know, if a Republican won the fifth congressional district in November 2022 that would be a plus one for Republicans and increase the likelihood that Republicans win a majority of the House. And I think your argument would be…you can do it, right?
Starbuck: Absolutely. I’m a different candidate than we’ve ever had in this district before. And where has it gotten us running the same people from the same schools with the same backgrounds? We haven’t won this district.
It hasn’t done any good for the people here. We have to think outside the box. I’m an outside-the-box candidate. I’m fully, fully cognizant of that. But I can win this. We can flip Independents.
We can take a message in about freedom, especially after COVID. And with the background my family had fleeing Cuba and Marxism to be able to say, did you enjoy this free trial over the last year and a half of Marxism and socialism?
Leahy: We had a 15 month free trial of Marxism.
Starbuck: You got a free trial and I think a lot of people are ready to make the return. And you saw how the Coopers treated you like they were Kings and you were just their pawns that had to do whatever they told you to do. That’s not what America was founded on. We’re supposed to be free.
Leahy: First, would you engage in a debate if I don’t know, The Tennessee Star were to host it between you and any other candidates who are seeking the Republican nomination?
Starbuck: Absolutely. I will always debate people.
Leahy: Okay. So if we had one in-studio here at five in the morning and or six in the morning, we could do a two-hour debate from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Starbuck: Absolutely. I’ll just pray for them beforehand.
Leahy: We’ve got enough room in the studio. We will start identifying other candidates and we’ll start putting that out here. We might even, like, do it on a monthly basis.
I’ll have you in here from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and all the Republican candidates, and we’ll just have a nice conversation. And then after the August 2022 primary, we’ll invite the incumbent, Jim Cooper.
Starbuck: I’m not so sure Jim is going to be the person in a general election.
Leahy: Now, that’s interesting because he does have an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes type challenger.
Starbuck: He does. AOC backed a socialist to run against him. And if we’re being perfectly honest, the energy on the left in Nashville is the Progressives. It’s not the Blue Dog Democrats.
Blue Dog Democrats are being pushed out of their party. So who is his constituency? Especially after the last year and a half. The far left and the groups that have all this grassroots energy on the ground, they’re going to be backing AOC’s candidate.
They raised $100,000 in a week, which is, you know, they’re going to make him spend money. They’re going to make him spend a good deal of money if he decides to run. I think after redistricting it’s not a foregone conclusion that he even doesn’t retire.
Leahy: He did kick off his reelection campaign.
Starbuck: He could always quit.
Leahy: He also has had some personal problems with his wife who passed away.
Starbuck: I was very sorry to hear that.
Leahy: And again, our condolences to Representative Cooper about that, and we criticize his policies.
Starbuck: But he’s a human being. It’s terrible. I can’t imagine losing that person you love the most.
Leahy: Now the challenger on the left is Odessa Kelly. She did play ball for Tennessee State University. But she’s worked for the city government most of her career. That’s her main accomplishment.
Starbuck: And she would like a bigger government.
Leahy: And she’s not Jim Cooper. That’s her other accomplishment.
Starbuck: You know what? On that one, I will say that’s gonna help her out. I don’t understand how anybody can work in the government and then at the end of it, go, you know what’s going to fix things? More government.
Leahy: Well, that’s how they think. Whoever wins, whether it’s Odessa Kelly or Jim Cooper, or whoever their Democratic nominee is, we will invite them to a debate with the Republican nominee. Will you attend?
Starbuck: Oh, I definitely will. I think the question is, will they attend?
Leahy: I don’t think they’ll attend because they don’t believe in a free exchange of ideas, because their ideas are so very bad.
Listen to the third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Robby Starbuck” by Robby Starbuck.