ELIZABETHTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe paid a call to two Carter County establishments Thursday with a message that the 2012 presidential election could be the most important in a long time.
The legislators enjoyed a cornbread and bean lunch with a large group of supporters and friends at County Commissioner Steve Lowrance’s Blackberry Antiques in Valley Forge. They then moved on to meet with a group of Stoney Creek well-wishers at A.D. Fletcher’s Store.
Alexander recalled the area fondly from his walk across the state during his successful campaign for governor in 1978, saying he first headed east to Carter County and Mountain City, “where the Republicans were” before heading west across the state. He recalled that Blackberry Antiques was a grocery store at the time and warmly remembered his stop at Fletcher’s Store after walking through Shady Valley and down into Stoney Creek on Tenn. Highway 91.
Both men took shots at the programs of the Obama administration and the government’s financial problems.
Roe said that the Senate has not passed a budget “since there was an iPad.”
He said as a retired physician, he knew what the biggest problem in the nation is. He said it was the high cost of health care.
Alexander said one good thing the administration has done is the findings of the president’s Debt Commission. He said 35 or 36 senators, half Republican and half Democrats, back the commission’s recommendations despite the president’s opposition of his own commission.
“I call on the president to support his commission,” Alexander said. “He is not responsible for all of the public debt that was created before he was elected but he responsible for the debt he has piled up.”
Despite the problems in the nation, both men had praise for the state they represent.
Alexander said he was in Memphis on Tuesday for the presentation of a Purple Heart to a 91-year-old World War II veteran. He said the man had been wounded in action, but refused his medal during the war because others had lost arms or legs.
Now his family wanted him to have the medal, and it was discovered that he was one of the last three surviving Rangers who had assaulted Pointe du Hoc on Normandy on D-Day. In addition to receiving the Purple Heart, he was awarded a Bronze Star with a combat V device for valor.
Alexander said that during his visit at Blackberry Antiques on Thursday he learned that Lowrance’s father, a medic, was also wounded and turned down his Purple Heart.
During a session with the media after the lunch, Alexander said the problems with high gas prices were a combination of increased demand from around the world and lack of supply. He called on the president to increase the supply from Canada, which is willing to sell to the U.S., and also to increase domestic production so dollars do not go to nations that are not America’s friends.