Hagerty makes first public appearance since return from Japan

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty made his first public appearance since returning from Japan on Friday evening at state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s annual barbecue fundraiser in Franklin.

Afterward, Hagerty sat down to discuss his plans regarding the U.S. Senate race with The Tennessee Journal and The Tennessean. 

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Q: What are your plans?

You know, first things first. I just wrapped up a tremendous stint as the U.S ambassador to Japan, and as I said out there, there’s no greater honor than to serve your nation in a position like this and being the president’s representative in a country that’s as large as Japan. The economy is the second-largest free market in the world there, and we have such tremendous intertwined relationships. We’ve got more military based in Japan than any other country, anyplace outside the United States.

It’s a great relationship, a strong relationship, one that’s very important to the president and one that’s important to all of us. So, a great experience, and a wonderful experience for my family, too. We had a terrific two or three-year experience there.

But we’re very happy to be back home now. We have new horizons ahead of us. We’re working on that right now. And I’ll be able to talk very soon about what we’re going to do.

Q: The president sort of let the cat out of the bag, didn’t he? Is it a done deal?

I’m very honored by the president’s tweet. And I just need to put some componentry in place before I can really address what that tweet was about. But I was very honored to be recognized.

Q: As of when are you officially no longer in the diplomatic service?

I’m just an unemployed citizen right now.

Q: After the president’s tweet, you put in your paperwork. But then maybe there were extenuating circumstances that the president wanted you to stick around. Can you talk about any of that?

Actually, not really. I got back home as soon as I reasonably could. We’re got a lot of important things going in the region. And I’ve been involved in a lot of that. We have some important things happening right now in Japan, so I think I’ve got everything in a good place. I’ve got a great team on the ground right now. All of their work is planned out. They know what they need to be doing. And the folks at the State Department are fulling engaged, as is the White House. So I don’t think they’re going to miss me.

Q: Coming out of the world of diplomacy, where you have to be careful and measured about what you say, how do you go about changing your mindset to domestic politics and campaigns?

I understand the question, but a lot of what I worked on has serious implications back home. Like Sen. Blackburn mentioned, the work I was doing on trade was so heavily focused on ag. Our farmers are bearing the brunt of our disputes with China. China has retaliated against American farmers.

Japan is a huge market for us, and we need to make sure Japan is doing as much as they possibly can to support our farmers right now, because Japan benefits immensely from our standing up to China. They suffer just like we do, from property theft and competing with state-owned enterprises, that type of thing. They are also in the neighborhood where islands are being militarized and a lot of bad things potentially could happen out there. What’s happening to the north and to the west of Japan is a tough neighborhood, and we’re their most important ally in all of this. A lot of that has an impact back here at home.

I’d say the next steps that I take will get me back re-engaged in Tennessee. I’ve been gone a couple years, and I plan to spend a lot of time going from one end of the state to the other, talking to people to hear from them what the issues are, and how things I saw over there are affecting things back home, and think about maybe if there’s a way I can help.

I’m glad to be back.

11 Responses to Hagerty makes first public appearance since return from Japan

  • cjmcd says:

    America needs Hagerty as does Trump. Happy to have you “senator” Hagerty!

  • James White says:

    Sounds like Hagerty will sell our sovereignty out on Trade deals just the same as Blackburn.
    The USMCA trade deal is Awful. And as for Military bases overseas, We need to Bring All of Our Troops Home from Every Country and End All Foreign Aid to Every Country.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    So far, for conservatives the prospects of a Republican primary race between centrist Bill Hagerty and No Record Candidate Manny Sethi is too depressing to contemplate. Come on guys, surely we can do better than that.

  • Gene Smith says:

    He is the perfect elitist for the US Senate. Keeps the Maryville Breakfast Club with representation. He will be great for the millionaires. Mitt Romney will be able to keep more friends in high places. He will also help control guns and middle class tax reductions so that won’t get out of hand. Tennessee is very fortunate!!

  • Eddie White says:

    Be nice to find a Republican candidate who has been driving his own vehicle the last few years and actually knows the price of a gallon of gas. Maybe a conservative who drives an old truck and has a voting record. Has to be someone out there somewhere….

  • Benny says:

    The next U.S. Senator from Tennessee should be selected by people not Washington D.C.

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