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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Haslam brings Pearl for visit

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

(Photo)
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, who is running for the GOP nomination for governor, spoke to a crowd Tuesday at Parkway Cafeteria as the primary season draws to a close.
(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely) [Order this photo]
About 100 supporters packed Shelbyville's Parkway Cafeteria Tuesday to meet GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam -- but to also meet and get an autograph from UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

With only two days before the Thursday primary, Haslam arrived at the popular dining spot in a colorful campaign bus to sell his message.

Haslam and his family, along with Pearl, also made stops in Hendersonville, Gallatin, Brentwood, Franklin, Columbia, Manchester, Chattanooga and Maryville on Tuesday.

A sizable crowd of GOP supporters waited for Haslam, but more than a few folks were sporting Volunteer orange in anticipation of meeting Pearl.

Haslam was introduced by Congressman John Duncan, who pointed out that Haslam was re-elected as Knoxville mayor in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote.

Pearl said he was in town two months ago, raising $60,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Bedford County.

"I've never been friends, or been that close to a man that could be our next governor," Pearl said, adding that he has seen what Haslam has done in Knoxville with that town's debt and property taxes.

Haslam said he and his family are planning to return to Shelbyville in a few weeks for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. He and his wife Crissy have been on the campaign trail for 19 months, driving about 85,000 miles, he told the crowd.

He joked that he promised to take his wife on a cruise for their anniversary, which was last week, but it ended up being a tour around Tennessee's small communities.

While Haslam was joined by Pearl, while GOP rival U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp has been joined by bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs in the run-up to the Thursday primary.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who brought his campaign to Shelbyville in July, dismissed the moves as "absolute gimmickry," according to The Associated Press.

Tuesday, Haslam said the reason he is being attacked by his opponents is because he is ahead in the primary race.

Haslam said the campaign has been a "long hard road" and emphasized how important it is to vote, asking the crowd if they had not already cast their ballots in early voting, to do so on Thursday.

"It matters who our next governor is," Haslam said. "In hard times, it matters even more." He used the example of Pearl and his leadership decisions with the UT basketball team.

"In easy times, a lot of people can lead ....on sunny days, everyone wants to be an airplane pilot, but when it's stormy, nobody wants to do it," Haslam stated, saying that Tennessee currently "faces real storms."

He pointed out that the state's budget has a billion dollars less revenue coming in and that federal stimulus money is being used to balance it, but the problem is that the money runs out at the end of this year.

He used the example of the cafeteria, saying the state either has to cut expenses or raise revenue, asking if raising taxes was a good or bad idea. The crowd said "bad."

"I'd thought you'd say that," the Knoxville mayor said.

While Tennessee has no state income tax, it is known for having the highest sales tax in the country and Haslam said "we can't keep doing that. The only solution is to shrink the size of state government."

Haslam said that there are hard calls to be made and that he already has the experience from running Knoxville. He also said that Tennessee "has a lot to sell" when it comes to bringing jobs to the state.

"We can sell Tennessee, we just need the right person selling it." he said.