Haslam in Elizabethton, talks politics at Reagan Day Dinner

John Thompson • Apr 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Gov. Bill Haslam gave an upbeat message to the Carter County Republican Party during its Reagan Day Dinner on Friday.

Haslam spoke about the progress the state has made during the past two years under the leadership not only of a Republican governor but also a Republican-led House and a Republican-led Senate.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the leader of the Senate, was in the audience.

Haslam reminded the room that when he and Ramsey were competing against each other in the 2010 Republican Primary that they each talked about what a historical moment it would be if the governor, the Senate and the House were in Republican hands.

Haslam said the state budget has been cut by $1 billion dollars in an effort to meet the Republican goal of providing the very best service possible at the best cost.

Another of Haslam’s initiatives was to be as aggressive as possible in recruiting industry. That meant being a right-to-work state, having a lower crime rate and having low taxes.

He said that as a result of that leadership, personal income is growing faster in Tennessee than in any other state. The state unemployment rate was more than 10 percent during the 2010 campaign. He said today there are more Tennesseans working than at any time in the past four years and the unemployment rate has dropped below the national average.

But to be a “jobs” governor meant also being an “education” governor, Haslam said.

To prove his points he talked about Volkswagen’s recent efforts to begin a third shift at its new Chattanooga plant. He said Volkswagen officials told him they found only eight qualified applicants out of every 100 they interviewed.

He said there needs to be more training in technology and math to prepare the next generation so that the successful applications will reach 50 out of every 100 interviewed.

Haslam told his Republican audience that the 2012 national election may very well be the most important in many years.

He said the reason for its importance is the two candidates offer a clear choice on which direction the nation will head.

He said the choices are whether we will “totally rely on the government for all our problems or whether we really believe in the free enterprise system ... whether we will choose the path of Europe and more debt or whether we will spend less than we bring in.”

Haslam said he though it was going to be a very close election.

He said that is why it was important for every Republican to pitch in and make a difference.

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