U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty made a stop on the campaign trail in Blount County on Tuesday evening.

Roughly 100 people, including Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, state Reps. Jerome Moon and Bob Ramsey and several Blount County commissioners, gathered at the Smithview Pavilion in Maryville to listen to the Republican candidate.

The Blount County Republican Party began organizing the event with the Hagerty campaign four weeks ago, said Scott Stuart, chairman of the Blount County Republican Party.

“I think this is one of the first events he’s had in East Tennessee after the primaries, so we’re very happy to have the candidate,” Stuart said.

Hagerty was introduced by Blount County Sheriff James Berrong, who also introduced the candidate during his July campaign visit in Maryville.

“I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments through the years,” Berrong said. “We couldn’t have handpicked a better candidate that’s so dedicated to the state of Tennessee and the United States of America.”

Hagerty started his speech by taking a 15-second moment of silence for two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who were shot in a patrol car Saturday.

“I don’t think it’s ever been more clear to me or, I think, clear to all of us that we’ve got to stand for law enforcement,” Hagerty said. “As your next U.S. senator, I will always back the blue.”

He spent a large portion of his speech talking about COVID-19 vaccines and the pandemic’s effect on the U.S. economy. Hagerty currently serves as a thought leader in President Donald Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups — groups created to combat COVID-19’s economic impact.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to get our economy moving again faster,” he said. “We’re meeting expectations, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Hagerty, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, talked about loosening reliance on China for medicine, specifically antibiotics.

“America’s going to be stronger because we’re not going to be vulnerable like we have been in the past,” he said, “and I’m optimistic we’re going to see the American economy grow faster than Japan, faster than China.”

Praising Tennessee’s conservative legislature, location and businesses, Hagerty elaborated on that optimism, saying he believed that Tennessee was “at the forefront.”

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