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Corker Coy About Presidential Bid

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker might run for president.

Or he might not.

Tennessee’s junior senator, two years into his second term, spoke at a Lawrenceburg Chamber of Commerce event and acknowledged he entertains daydreams about being president of the United States. He said, though, that he won’t be making any hasty decisions about jumping in the 2016 race — and that his wife might ultimately end up with veto power on the matter.

A story by the Associated Press reported that Corker said “there are times when I do wish I could have the kind of impact and create the kind of change and have the kind of vision for our country” that he thinks “so many people here in Tennessee would like to see happen.”

And Corker told the Jackson Sun editorial board Wednesday afternoon that he “relishes” the presidential role, knowing the “huge difference” he could make as opposed to just being a U.S. senator.

Corker also told the Economics Club of Memphis something similar on Wednesday night — though he apparently added that while he’s indeed thinking about it, it isn’t an all-consuming ambition.

Like the Volunteer State’s other GOP Senator, former Gov. Lamar Alexander, Corker, who is the chief Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been criticized by Tea-Party conservatives for working too closely with liberal Democrats.

In addition to his efforts in the Senate on financial reform and the auto-industry bailouts — which earned him the moniker “Bailout Bob” — the former Chattanooga mayor has received national media and political attention for some of his proposals, including raising the gas tax, arming the Syrian rebels and taking a hardline stance against Russia over Ukraine.

If he does decide to make a bid for president, Corker would join a field of candidate that is speculated to also include such notable Republicans as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and brother of George W. Bush, told a Florida NBC affiliate that he, too, is still weighing the pros and cons of a presidential run.

Alexander: Obama Has No ‘Serious Plan’ for Border, Should Send Nat’l Guard

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; July 30, 2014:

“First, President Obama should secure the border by using the National Guard if necessary. Second, the United States should cut off foreign aid to countries that don’t help us send these children home safely. Third, since a Democratic amendment to legislation that passed in 2008 makes it more difficult to send these unaccompanied children back to a safe place in their own countries, Congress needs to change the law.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted against the Democrats’ Emergency Supplemental Appropriations legislation, which includes the president’s request for funding to address the recent influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border.

“I voted against President Obama’s funding request for the border crisis because he still has not proposed a serious plan to secure the border and deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors entering our country,” said Alexander. “Earlier this month I proposed a three-part plan on how to do so. First, President Obama should secure the border by using the National Guard if necessary. Second, the United States should cut off foreign aid to countries that don’t help us send these children home safely. Third, since a Democratic amendment to legislation that passed in 2008 makes it more difficult to send these unaccompanied children back to a safe place in their own countries, Congress needs to change the law.”

In response to the immigration crisis, Alexander has cosponsored the HUMANE Act, which would expedite the process for reviewing immigration claims of unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally and authorizes 40 new judges to handle these immigration claims. Alexander first called on President Obama to consider deploying the National Guard to the border on July 9, and laid out his three-step proposal at an Appropriations Committee hearing to deal with the border crisis. His full remarks at that hearing are available here. Additionally, Alexander joined 42 senators last month in sending a letter to President Obama calling on him to “make clear” that the U.S. will enforce its “strict rules about how people get into our country.”

TNGOP to Air Presidential ‘Welcome Message’ Touting State’s Economic Success

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; July 29, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— President Barack Obama will find a different kind of welcome mat rolled out for him in Tennessee when he arrives to tour the Chattanooga Amazon distribution plant on Tuesday. The Tennessee Republican Party has purchased airtime and will broadcast a welcome message to the President detailing the recent successes of the state.

“The message isn’t about President Obama or his feckless leadership on jobs and the economy–everyone is well aware of that dismal record,” stated Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Instead, this ad is about the great things happening here in Tennessee because of Republican principles in action. We hope the President uses this opportunity to see what real leadership looks like and takes those lessons back to Washington. We’re the Party of opportunity and upward mobility in Tennessee and this ad touts that belief.”

The ad, which shows some of Tennessee’s stunning views and important landmarks, has a voiceover that lists just a few of the recent accolades given to Tennessee in the last year stating, “We’re fourth in job creation, top five for business, and the third freest state in the country, thanks to Republican leadership.” The ad continues stating, “In stark contrast to Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”

In 2012 Tennessee’s gross domestic product grew faster than the country as a whole and personal income growth in Tennessee outpaced the country as well.

“Our economy and state are moving forward while we continue to see America stall under President Obama’s damaging economic policies. We hope that President Obama will see that Tennessee is the perfect example of Republican fiscal responsibility and free market approach working to grow the economy, increase personal wealth, and attract jobs. Like the ad says, ‘This is what America should look like,” concluded Devaney.

Click here to view the ad.

Hagerty Takes Leave to Campaign for Romney

Press release from the Department of Economic & Community Development; Sept. 10, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bill Hagerty will take a temporary leave of absence to volunteer as a member of the Romney/Ryan presidential readiness team in Washington, D.C.

Hagerty’s unpaid leave will run from Monday, September 17 through Tuesday, November 6. Despite the scheduled time away, he will be in Nashville October 18 and 19 to oversee the Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development.

The presidential readiness team is led by former Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah. Hagerty served in a similar role for the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“Bill’s background makes him a logical choice to serve in this role,” Haslam said. “He will do a great job.”

Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey will assume oversight of the department during Hagerty’s leave of absence.

“Creating and growing Tennessee jobs is a top priority for our administration, and I appreciate Claude for his willingness to serve in this capacity in the upcoming weeks,” Haslam continued. “His experience will be an asset to the department as we continue to focus on new jobs in Tennessee.”

Hagerty will return to the department on Wednesday, November 7.

Ramsey: GOP ‘United’ Behind Romney

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; August 31, 2012: 

The fall election season has begun. The Republican National Convention has concluded and the party has nominated two excellent men to lead it through November and beyond: Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan.

I was proud to represent both my party and my state as a Tennessee delegation co-chair in Tampa and witness the introduction of this great ticket to the American people. Our Tennessee delegation had a great time sharing stories and ideas with Republicans from across the country.

And then there were the speeches. So many different voices all coming together for one common purpose. Whether it was the foreign policy genius of Condoleezza Rice, the inspiring social conservatism of Governor Mike Huckabee or messages from the tea party delivered by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, all the speakers were united in reaching one goal: electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and ending America’s Obama ordeal.

As many of you may know I supported a different candidate in the primary. But after this past week and after studying the record of Mitt Romney, I truly believe we are united behind the best candidate to defeat Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign will try and paint Mitt Romney’s experience in business as a negative but I believe the American people will see through these transparent attacks. Mitt Romney has a story to tell and it is one of economic recovery.

For 15 years, Mitt Romney worked at a company that took failing businesses and turned them around. He described his experience in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

“I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work, to get our economy back on track, create jobs, strengthen the middle class and lay the groundwork for America’s increased competitiveness in the world,” Romney explained.

Mitt Romney, for lack of a better term, is a turnaround artist. That skill is the number one requirement to lead America out of the Obama recession.

I’m excited at the prospect of a president who has worked in the private sector identifying new ways to maximize resources and solve problems. I’m energized to support a presidential candidate who speaks from experience and with optimism about the possibilities of our free enterprise system in contrast to a President who belittles the efforts of small businessmen.

Mitt Romney’s competency as an executive leader was proven once again in his choice of a runningmate. Many urged Governor Romney to make a safe choice and choose a bland figure who would make no waves. He instead made a bold choice.

Paul Ryan is young, visionary leader of the intellectual Right and one who has been unafraid to stake out clear and definable positions.

The choice of an advanced thinker such as Ryan shows that Romney is concerned not just with the politics of getting elected but with the policy expertise needed to govern. In his speech in Tampa, Rep. Ryan revealed himself as the perfect compliment to Mitt Romney and showed that he is ready to serve on day one.

The choice the American people have been given is a stark one — and that is just how I like it.

On one side, we have a man who spent a career building success out of failure, a man who has turned around companies and saved jobs. On the other side, we have a man who has taken a recession and turned it into a near depression all the while telling individuals who have managed success in tough times that “they didn’t build that.”

These two visions of America could not be more diametrically opposed.

In Tennessee, Republicans have proven that conservative governance works. We have proven that you can shrink a budget’s bottom line, cut taxes and still provide high quality services. We have shown that a state that pays its bills on time can thrive — even in the Obama recession.

I see the same principles of conservative governance in the Romney/Ryan ticket. I look forward to seeing a change in the White House and cannot wait to see Mitt Romney make America’s economic comeback his turnaround masterpiece.

Obama Thanks Haslam; President Also Congratulates TN Governor on Daughter’s Wedding

President Barack Obama on No Child Left Behind Flexibility; Remarks Distributed by the White House Press Office, Sept. 23, 2011:

East Room, 10:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. I see a whole bunch of people who are interested in education, and we are grateful for all the work that you do each and every day.

I want to recognize the person to my right, somebody who I think will end up being considered one of the finest Secretaries of Education we’ve ever had — Arne Duncan. (Applause.) In addition to his passion, probably the finest basketball player ever in the Cabinet. (Laughter.)

I also want to thank Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee for taking the time to be here today, and the great work that he’s doing in Tennessee. I’m especially appreciative because I found that his daughter is getting married, and he is doing the ceremony tomorrow, so we’ve got to get him back on time. (Laughter and applause.) But we really appreciate his presence. Thank you.

And a good friend, somebody who I had the pleasure of serving with during the time that I was in the United States Senate, he is now the Governor of Rhode Island — Lincoln Chafee. It’s wonderful to see Lincoln. (Applause.)

Thank you all for coming. And I do want to acknowledge two guys who’ve just worked tirelessly on behalf of education issues who happen to be in the front row here — from the House, outstanding Congressman, George Miller. (Applause.) And from the Senate, the pride of Iowa, Tom Harkin. (Applause.)

Now, it is an undeniable fact that countries who out-educate us today are going to out-compete us tomorrow. But today, our students are sliding against their peers around the globe. Today, our kids trail too many other countries in math, in science, in reading. And that’s true, by the way, not just in inner-city schools, not just among poor kids; even among what are considered our better-off suburban schools we’re lagging behind where we need to be. Today, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t finishing high school. We have fallen to 16th in the proportion of young people with a college degree, even though we know that 60 percent of new jobs in the coming decade will require more than a high school diploma.

And what this means is if we’re serious about building an economy that lasts –- an economy in which hard work pays off with the opportunity for solid middle-class jobs -– we’ve got to get serious about education. We are going to have to pick up our games and raise our standards.

We’re in the midst of an ongoing enormous economic challenge. And I spend a lot of my time thinking immediately about how we can put folks back to work and how we can stabilize the world financial markets. And those things are all important. But the economic challenges we face now are economic challenges that have been building for decades now, and the most important thing we can do is to make sure that our kids are prepared for this new economy. That’s the single-most important thing we can do. (Applause.) So even as we focus on the near term and what we’ve got to do to put folks back to work, we’ve got to be thinking a little bit ahead and start making the tough decisions now to make sure that our schools are working the way they need to work.

Now, we all now that schools can’t do it alone. As parents, the task begins at home. It begins by turning off the TV and helping with homework, and encouraging a love of learning from the very start of our children’s lives. And I’m speaking from experience now. (Laughter.) Malia and Sasha would often rather be watching American Idol or Sponge Bob, but Michelle and I know that our first job, our first responsibility, is instilling a sense of learning, a sense of a love of learning in our kids. And so there are no shortcuts there; we have to do that job. And we can’t just blame teachers and schools if we’re not instilling that commitment, that dedication to learning, in our kids.

But as a nation, we also have an obligation to make sure that all of our children have the resources they need to learn, because they’re spending a lot of time outside of the household. They’re spending the bulk of their waking hours in school. And that means that we’ve got to make sure we’ve got quality schools, good teachers, the latest textbooks, the right technology. And that, by the way, is something we can do something about right away. That’s why I sent the jobs bill to Congress that would put thousands of teachers back to work all across the country and modernize at least 35,000 schools. (Applause.)

Congress should pass that bill right now. We’ve got too many schools that are under-resourced, too many teachers who want to be in the classroom who aren’t because of budget constraints, not because they can’t do the job.

So parents have a role and schools need more resources. But money alone won’t solve our education problems. I’ve said this before, I will repeat it: Money alone is not enough. We also need reform. We’ve got to make sure that every classroom is a place of high expectations and high performance. And that’s been our vision since taking office. That’s why instead of just pouring money into the system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. And to all 50 states — to governors, to schools districts — we said, show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement; we’ll show you the money. We want to provide you more resources, but there’s also got to be a commitment on your part to make the changes that are necessary so that we can see actual results.

And for less than 1 percent of what we spend on education each year, Race to the Top, under Arne’s leadership, has led states across the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And, by the way, these standards that we’re talking about — these high standards that we’re talking about were not developed here in Washington. They were developed by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country — essentially as a peer group, a peer review system where everybody traded best practices and said, here’s what seems to work, and let’s hold all of our schools to these high standards. And since that Race to the Top has been launched, we’ve seen what’s possible when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate but the work of local teachers and principals and school boards and communities working together to develop better standards.

This is why, in my State of the Union address this year, I said that Congress should reform the No Child Left Behind law based on the principles that have guided Race to the Top.

And I want to say the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, and President Bush deserves credit for that. Higher standards are the right goal. Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we’ve got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that, in it’s implementation, No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them. Teachers too often are being forced to teach to the test. Subjects like history and science have been squeezed out. And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states, perversely, have actually had to lower their standards in a race to the bottom instead of a Race to the Top. They don’t want to get penalized? Let’s make sure that the standards are so low that we’re not going to be seen failing to meet them. That makes no sense.

And these problems have been obvious to parents and educators all over the country for years now. Despite the good intentions of some — two of them are sitting right here, Tom and George — Congress has not been able to fix these flaws so far. I’ve urged Congress for a while now, let’s get a bipartisan effort, let’s fix this. Congress hasn’t been able to do it. So I will. Our kids only get one shot at a decent education. They cannot afford to wait any longer. So, given that Congress cannot act, I am acting. (Applause.)

So starting today, we’ll be giving states more flexibility to meet high standards. Keep in mind, the change we’re making is not lowering standards; we’re saying we’re going to give you more flexibility to meet high standards. We’re going to let states, schools and teachers come up with innovative ways to give our children the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. Because what works in Rhode Island may not be the same thing that works in Tennessee -– but every student should have the same opportunity to learn and grow, no matter what state they live in.

Let me repeat: This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability. In fact, the way we’ve structured this, if states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards, that prove they’re serious about meeting them.

And already, 44 states –- led by some of the people on this stage –- have set higher standards and proposed new ways to get there — because that’s what’s critical. They know what’s at stake here.

Ricky Hall is the principal of a charter school in Worcester, Massachusetts. Where’s Ricky? Oh, Ricky’s not here. (Laughter.) He was — there he is. Ricky — I wasn’t sure if he was behind me. Good. Thank you. (Applause.) Every single student who graduated from Ricky’s school in the last three years went on to college. Every single one. (Applause.) His school ranks in the top quarter of all schools in Massachusetts — and as you know, Massachusetts’ schools rank very high among the 50 states. But because Ricky’s school did not meet all the technical standards of No Child Left Behind, his school was labeled a failure last year. That’s not right. That needs to change. What we’re doing today will encourage the progress at schools like Ricky’s.

Is John Becker here? He is? All right, here’s John. (Laughter.) I didn’t think you were John. (Laughter.) John teaches at one of the highest-performing middle schools in D.C., and now with these changes we’re making he’s going to be able to focus on teaching his 4th-graders math in a way that improves their performance instead of just teaching to a test. (Applause.)

We have superintendents like David Estrop from Springfield, Ohio — right here. (Applause.) Dave will be able to focus on improving teaching and learning in his district instead of spending all his time on bureaucratic mandates from Washington that don’t actually produce results.

So this isn’t just the right thing to do for our kids -– it’s the right thing to do for our country. We can’t afford to wait for an education system that is not doing everything it needs to do for our kids. We can’t let another generation of young people fall behind because we didn’t have the courage to recognize what doesn’t work, admit it, and replace it with something that does. We’ve got to act now. (Applause.) We’ve got to act now and harness all the good ideas coming out of our states, out of our schools. We can’t be tied up with ideology. We can’t be worrying about partisanship. We just have to make sure that we figure out what works, and we hold ourselves to those high standards. Because now is the time to give our children the skills that they need to compete in this global economy.

We’ve got a couple of students up on stage who are doing outstanding work because somebody in their schools is dedicated and committed every single day to making sure that they’ve got a chance to succeed. But I don’t want them to be the exception. I want them to be the rule. Now is the time to make our education system the best in the world, the envy of the world. (Applause.) It used to be. It is going to be again, thanks to the people in this room.

God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. (Applause.)