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U.S. Senate candidate Sethi addresses Republicans of Kingsport

Hank Hayes • Jun 2, 2020 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Tennessee GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi warmed up to the Republicans of Kingsport on Monday by saying the United States needs to get tougher with China and tougher on illegal immigration.

Sethi, a Nashville trauma surgeon, said his candidacy all starts with his mother and father, who legally immigrated to the U.S. from India.

"When my parents were kids, their homes were burned to the ground by Muslim radicals," Sethi told the group at its North Eastman Road headquarters. "They were left with noting. ... They went to the U.S. Embassy. They stood in line. They waited their turn. They came to this country legally with an 'L.' "

Sethi insisted the COVID-19 pandemic shows why the U.S. is entirely too reliant on the communist Chinese government.

"Seventy percent of our gowns, our gloves, our masks, personal protective equipment, 20 of our medications, antibiotics are made by an enemy, but we can't make it here," Sethi stressed. "We have to change that. The Washington insiders, the establishment Republicans, they sold our supply chains down the road. We have to bring that back here."

Sethi also attacked Obamacare by stressing it has made health care more expensive.

"We pay health care providers to treat disease and not promote wellness," he said. "If you have diabetes, you have become our best friend. If you have pre-diabetes, nobody cares."

On illegal immigration, Sethi said he supports building a southern border wall and ending chain migration and birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"It is not racist to talk about illegal immigration," Sethi said. "We need to pause all immigration right now until we can figure out what's happening in our American economy."

There are 15 candidates on the August GOP Primary ballot, but a number of Republicans view this race as between Sethi and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. Still, Sethi called Trump "the greatest president of our lifetime."

Sethi has loaned $1.9 million to his campaign on the way to raising a total of about $3.7 million, according to a first quarter disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission. He had about $2 million cash on hand at the end of the first quarter.

Hagerty, in contrast, has raised more than $7.1 million including a $2.5 million loan that didn't come from him. At the end of the first quarter, he had $5.6 million cash on hand.

Sethi also addressed these questions:

What's your take on the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd?

"Peaceful protest is constitutional. Burning and looting is unacceptable. I applaud the president for what he did with Antifa in making it a terrorist organization. Take Nashville for example. The vast majority of the people arrested doing this stuff were not even from this state. My heart goes out to the Floyd family and the investigation. Ninety nine point nine percent of police officers are good people. I have taken care of police officers who took a bullet for somebody in the line of duty. We can't forget that right now."

What do you think of the Ballad Health merger?

"I have to learn more about it. My feeling is the consumer is the customer, and if the customer is not happy, we've got to think about ways to improve it. I know there have been some issues."

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