“We need to spend more time talking about what we’re for rather than what we’re against,” Haslam told the RNC members, and a good starting point, he said, was to do away with the idea that government is a “bad” thing.
Haslam compared government to fire — in that both are problems only when out of control but, when properly overseen, are of obvious benefit.
“We have serious issues in this country, serious issues about people not being able to climb out of poverty” What was called for, the governor said, was to “change the trajectory” of the county and the angle of governmental approach.
”We’re never going to fix poverty until we fix education,” he said,contending that Republicans try to deal with the issue on the front, or preventive, end, while Democrats attempt to deal with it on the back end.
Haslam boasted his administration’s achievements in reducing taxes while doubling the state’s rainy-day or reserve fund and maintaining adequate funding for education. “We know how to run things,” he said,noting that CEO Magazine had ranked Tennessee the fourth best managed state last year and moved it to third this year.
He noted further that of the top 25 managed states, as reckoned by the same magazine, 23 of them had Republican governors and all of the Top Ten.
Speaking to reporters after his luncheon address, the governor was discreet in addressing two hot-button issues — the incendiary blog remarks of state Senator Stacey Campfield comparing Obamacare sign-ups to the Nazis’ forced evacuations of Jews to death camps in World War Two; and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s current campaign to cause the defeat of three Democratically appointed state Supreme Court justices in this year’s retention elections.
On the Campfield matter, Haslam said, “It was wrong and inappropriate and insensitive. When you’re in a public office hour words matter, and when you use words like that are indefensible, it’s wrong. That’s not a statement you can defend.” Asked if he would be taking sides in Campfield’s reelection effort against Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, Haslam shied away from endorsing the Commissioner but said that, as Knoxville mayor, he had worked with Briggs who would bring “a really unique skills set.”
On the state Supreme Court issue, Haslam said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be out campaigning for or against Supreme Court justices. It’s not my role. “ He repeated previous statements that he would not take part in any such activity and that he was concerned about the negative effect that a campaign against the justices would have on Amendment Two on this year’s statewide ballot.
The amendment, if approved, would empower the governor to make Supreme Court appointments, subject to confirmation by the legislature.” I’m in a fairly unique position, because if they are replaced I’d be the one making the appointments.,” he noted.