Bill Lee: We must 'stand against hate'

Hank Hayes • Updated Oct 30, 2018 at 11:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Tennessee Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee called the Pittsburgh mass shooting a “tragedy” on Monday and said state government needs to work with law enforcement to keep it from happening here.

“We’ve got to move in a different direction in this country and stand against hate wherever it exists,” Lee, a Williamson County businessman, said during a stop at the Bristol Republican headquarters. “We certainly need to work strongly with law enforcement. They put themselves on the line every day to protect us, and they know best how we can protect one another.”

Lee’s Democrat opponent, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, was quick to attempt to seek the high ground on the Pittsburgh mass shooting with a TV ad saying the state can respect the right to bear arms while protecting families.

“But Bill Lee supports concealed carry without a permit, making it hard to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and he’d let teachers bring guns into the classroom,” Dean said in the ad. “I’m against permit-less carry and arming teachers. It’s a real difference with life-changing consequences.”

Lee also addressed these questions:

The polls are showing you ahead at this point in the race a few days away from Election Day. How are you running your campaign now?

“There’s only one poll that counts and that’s on the sixth of November. That’s why we’re going to 95 counties in 95 days that are in the General Election, and we’re working really hard to spread our message to as many people we can reach before next Tuesday.”

What’s the greatest challenge you are facing now?

“I think no matter where people live in this state, they want a good job and a good school for their kid and a safe neighborhood, and that is what our greatest challenge is and that is what I’ll be focused on as governor.”

The Secretary of State’s office says nearly a million people have voted early or absentee. What do you read into that? Are you helping (GOP U.S. Senate candidate) Marsha (Blackburn) or is (Democratic U.S. Senate candidate) Phil (Bredesen) helping Dean?

“I’m really grateful there is a large turnout. Tennessee hasn’t had the greatest record in voter turnout. Any time that people are engaged and interested and there’s more voters to come out, it’s good for our country. I only know about my race, and I’m getting out in front of as many people as I can.”

What was said at the Bristol stop?

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., noted the national election is still wide open.

“This is not going to be a blue wave, I can tell you that,” Roe told Republicans. “It is going to be very close. I think the Senate is going to be fine. I think the House is going to be a coin flip.”

Lee pointed out his campaign got much support from Northeast Tennessee during the GOP Primary. He’s currently doing a “Believe in Tennessee” tour. “Many of you in this room and in this part of the state, where we carried almost every county … we are so privileged to have that experience,” Lee said.

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