Manage episode 272721400 series 2623091
Some of the highlights of the show include:
- Congressman John Rose grew up in Cookeville. His dad worked for Farm Credit so he spent a lot of his time out on the farm.
- John developed a passion for agriculture and farming. That is when his goal in life became to take over the family farm.
- John is the eighth generation of his family to farm on the same farm ground in Smith County and DeKalb County, and his son, Guy, would be the ninth generation.
- Later, John got a BS degree in Agribusiness Economics at Tennessee Tech. He continued his education by attending Vanderbilt Law School.
- A fellow law student and John started a business in 1992 that aimed at training information technology professionals.
- He ended up selling his business in November of 2000 and John came home to be a farmer. Later, he became Commissioner of Agriculture.
- His position as the Commissioner of Agriculture helped him learn more about the government and informed his views and perspectives.
- The episode was recording on the 19th anniversary of September 11. Paul Bailey and John Rose recall where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
- John says that the threat of terrorism still exists today. He believes America needs to constantly put up a strong defense.
- An effective congressman needs to be present and show up for the counties they present.
- John’s constituents ask him about the federal response to the coronavirus the most out of any other topic.
- “We cannot stop the spread of coronavirus until we have a vaccine, an effective vaccine.” - Congressman John Rose
- “On the case of President Trump, we have a person who is unapologetically pro-American: believes in this country, believes in the American ideal, and wants to see that grow and continue in advance, and wants to see that passed onto future generations of Americans.” -Congressman John Rose
- “I represent you all, so even if you feel differently about issues of the day, don't hesitate to reach out and let me know. And it's not hard to find us: you can go to johnrose.house.gov, and it has all of our contact information.” -Congressman John Rose
Announcer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.
Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. Joining us in today's episode is Tennessee 6th District Congressman John Rose. Welcome, Congressman. Glad to have you with us today.
Congressman Rose: Thank you, Senator Bailey. It's my privilege to be here.
Senator Bailey: Well, as we get started, I'd like for you to tell us just a little bit about yourself and what it was like growing up here in the Upper Cumberland.
Congressman Rose: Sure. So, I was born here in Cookeville, in 1965; Cookeville Hospital over here, the youngest of four in my family. My dad worked for the Farm Credit System, then Production Credit Association and my family moved here the year before in 1964 from our family farm, which is on the DeKalb-Smith county line, down around the Lancaster, Temperance Hall area. And so my dad worked for Farm Credit—so growing up, I grew up in Cookeville but he continued to farm, and so that meant afternoons and weekends and summers we spent a lot of time on the farm. So, I kind of got a little bit of small-town life and a little bit of farm life as a kid growing up.
And really the farm part really sunk in for me, and I developed a real interest in passion in agriculture and farming, and then later in elementary school and high school, was in 4-H, and then FFA, and developed projects on the farm. And that became my goal in life was to move to the family farm and take over the farm at some point, hopefully. I am the youngest of four, so that was never a certain thing. But it was a great life growing up, and I grew up in a good time, I feel like, and made a lot of impressions on me about rural life in this area. And so it was always my goal, then, to live right here in the Upper Cumberland and hopefully continue the legacy on our family farm.
Senator Bailey: Well, you and I are similar in age, and I have an 18-year-old son as well as two older children, and although we live on a small farm, I still don't think that he's had the full experience of being on the farm like I had. During my time of growing up, obviously, we milked cows, I had bottle calves that I had to take care of, chickens that I had to take care of. And my children didn't necessarily have all of those chores that they had to do on a daily basis. So, I think that our children today are missing out on just a little bit of what you and I went through back then.
Congressman Rose: A lot of them are, sadly, and I've told Chelsea if we don’t—our son Guy, he'll be three here in about three weeks, and I've told her—we moved to Cookeville three years ago, and I said we've got to get back because if he doesn't grow up with that is an everyday part of his life, he won't have the same passion and interest in it. And I'm the eighth generation of our family to farm there on the same farm ground in Smith County and DeKalb County, and Guy would be the ninth generation. I’m certainly hopeful that he will decide—there's no pressure. A 230-year legacy, now. But I hope that he decides to continue it.
Senator Bailey: I totally understand and there's one thing—of course, you're in Washington and spend a lot of time there in Congress. I’m State Senator, and so usually in Nashville on a full-time basis, January through April. One thing that I really enjoy, especially in the spring, is getting on my tractor and mowing hay, and feeding the cattle, and so forth. So, I know that is therapy for me. I usually call it tractor therapy. So, I'm sure you understand that.
Congressman Rose: Absolutely. Being able to complete what I would call ‘real work’ on a farm, there's a therapeutic nature to it to be sure, and a sense of accomplishment that it's hard to get doing the things that we do as legislators.
Senator Bailey: So, then you attended Tennessee Tech?
Congressman Rose: That's right. After I graduated from Cookeville High School in 1983, I worked on a bachelor's degree and ultimately got a BS degree in Agribusiness Economics at Tennessee Tech, and had a great experience there. Great school, great professors, just a wonderful experience. And then went on to graduate school at Purdue in Indiana, and studied Agricultural Economics there. I realized while I was there, that really had not been, necessarily, the best preparation to help me achieve my life goal, which was to come back and take over the family farm.
So while I was there, I was kind of thinking, what could I do that would allow me to choose where I lived to live in the rural Upper Cumberland and make enough money to buy my siblings out of the farm? And so I decided law school was the answer, that I could become a country lawyer. And so that took me to law school in 1990 and graduated in ’93 from Vanderbilt Law School, and then—not through the plan that I had, but through another plan, and it's strange how God lays out our path for us—but I ultimately got to achieve that goal, and I moved back to Middle Tennessee and into our family farm in 1994. And lived there until three years ago, and our plan is to build a new home there on the farm in the not too distant future and move back there.
Senator Bailey: Oh. Well, that's awesome. And so, I know you went to law school at Vanderbilt. So, tell me just a little bit about—I know because you actually entered the business world, did you ever actually practice law or did you move more into the business world and you practiced business law? Tell me a little bit about that.
Congressman Rose: Well, so strange, again, how circumstances guide your life. So, while I was at Vanderbilt Law School, a fellow law school student and I started a business. It was his idea, really, I don't claim that it was my idea. But he had a business idea and came to me and said, “Hey, do you want to be part of this?” And I said, “Well, sure, why not?”
And so we started a business in 1992 that aimed at training information technology professionals. At that time, Microsoft had just come out with a professional certification program, and it was a pretty simple business idea, which was to help individuals who wanted those certifications to prepare for them. So, we developed the first practice exams, if you will, for the Microsoft certification. That first product came out in 1993, and I graduated from law school, the business wasn't doing well enough to support both of us at that time, so I actually did move down to Chattanooga, with the idea that I was going to get some experience at a big law firm.
And so I got an opportunity to go down there and I practiced law for about a year and a half. And then my grandmother passed away in June of 1994, and my dad went by order of age—which meant he got to me last—offering my siblings and then me a chance to move there. And he said, “If you'll move and live on the farm, I'll give you her house—” which is built in 1874, so this is not a lavish house. This is a simple country farmhouse.
He said, “I’ll give you her house and 20 acres if you move there and live there.” And they all turned him down and I jumped on it and said, “Yes, I'll do that.” And then started talking to my business partner, and we decided that the business was doing well enough that it could support us both, so I came back to Middle Tennessee and got involved in that business full time. So, about a year and a half of experience practicing law.
Senator Bailey: And then also, you became Commissioner of Agriculture.
Congressman Rose: Sure. So, we were very blessed in our business and ended up selling it in November of 2000, and I came home to be a farmer. That was my plan at that point. And then in July of 2002, the then serving Commissioner of Agriculture, a man named Dan Wheeler, Commissioner Dan Wheeler, who's from Cumberland County originally, he had been commissioner and he was leaving to take on a new role prior to the end of the administration. And so he called me one day and he said, “John, would you ever have any interest in being Commissioner of Agriculture?”
And I knew enough about the timing to know this was going to be a temporary thing. You know, just a few months—it ended up being about six and a half months—and I said, “Well, no. I'd really never thought about it, but that's an interesting opportunity.” And so, long story short, I got the opportunity to serve the end of the Sundquist administration as Commissioner of Agriculture.
Senator Bailey: That's a rewarding experience. Especially to me, being Commissioner of Ag. You've had a passion for agriculture your entire life, and so for you to become the commissioner and be able to travel across the state. Because farming is totally different in East Tennessee as compared to West Tennessee, and so for me when I've been able to go across the state and meet the farmers and how diverse we are in our crops and the way that they prepare, and so forth, so you got to see that firsthand as Commissioner plus, I'm sure there were several programs that you were able to see through to fruition during your time as commissioner as well.
Congressman Rose: That's right. It was a tremendous opportunity to learn about agriculture and be more involved directly in agriculture. Of course, I had spent, then, several years in the IT space, and so with agriculture is a passion of mine. It was a real opportunity and a great learning opportunity about government, both the good and bad, and the limitations of government, which really then helped to inform my views and perspectives going forward about what government can do and what, maybe, government shouldn't try to do. And so it was a great learning experience, and you’ll appreciate this. I got there in—arrived and was sworn in as Commissioner in late July of 2002 after the legislature had gone home. That was the year that the income tax issue was disposed of, thankfully, and so I got there after that fight had ended, and then I left, of course, on Inauguration Day, 2003. And so I used to say to everyone, I got to town after the legislature left, and I left town before they got back.
Senator Bailey: [laughs]. Well, that's probably a good thing.
Congressman Rose: [laughs].
Senator Bailey: So, let's touch just a little bit, you mentioned Chelsea and Guy. And so, you're finally referred to, many times when you're being introduced, as Chelsea’s husband, not always as Congressman John Rose, but you're fondly introduced as Chelsea's husband. So, I had the opportunity to work with Chelsea when she was an intern at the Tennessee legislature. And she is a really bright star and she was very well thought of and, of course, she was able to move on and work for the electric co-ops at the time as well. So, tell us just a little bit about Chelsea and Guy.
Congressman Rose: Well, Chelsea is a great life partner, a great wife, and mother to our son, Guy, and she has impressed me from the first moment I met her. I won't go into that story real deeply, but, uh, because everyone, I think, knows I'm quite a bit older. And so I met her when—first became aware of her when she was an FFA member and then a few years later, we started dating. But she's very talented, very capable. In fact, when I started thinking about running for Congress, I tried to talk her into doing it. And she knew we were planning to start a family, and so she thought those two things wouldn't mix well, and probably was right about that. But she's very talented in her own right.
Senator Bailey: Well, that's awesome. You guys are a great couple and I see some of my wife Amy and Chelsea being very similar. They're very strong, and also helping you and I, as legislators. There are days that we can sometimes have a little discouragement and I know both of them are—I know Amy's lifting me up in the background, and I know Chelsea's doing the same for you.
Congressman Rose: Sure. And the, I guess, only downside to that, and I'm sure have this thought from time to time, is I'm not always sure I can fully trust what she tells me about how I did because she knows when my ego might be bruised a little, and she provides the right comfort to encourage me. But great partner. Couldn't ask for a better wife and spouse, and mother for our child.
Senator Bailey: That's awesome. Well, today is the 19th anniversary of September 11th. That was the day that changed American—I believe, the world forever. I remember very vividly where I was that day. I'm assuming you can remember exactly where you were when you first heard about or saw those planes flying into the Twin Towers.
Congressman Rose: Absolutely. Yeah, so I was on the farm that day and like most days at that time, I didn't necessarily turn on the TV in the morning so I wasn't even watching when the first plane flew in and the events began to unfold. And then a friend of mine from Nashville called and said, “Have you seen what's happening?” And I was like, “No, sir.” And so I turned on the TV immediately and saw the second plane crash into that building. And watched that for a good bit.
I had a number of chores I had to do that day, so I kind of had to go about my business. And I traveled over to Carthage and then over to Woodbury that day. And so as I was going to the newspaper offices in the two towns, the Carthage Courier office, and then over to the Cannon Courier’s office. And so when I walked in both places, they had their TV's on, and so I kind of caught up on events. But a day that we'll never forget, I think anyone living at that time—I had heard my parents through the years talk about events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I think was one that really stuck in their minds, and so certainly a day that we would not wish upon the country, or anyone, or any nation for that matter.
And I think there's a silver lining there, and that is that it brought our country together and it awakened us and for a season, I think, really brought us together. And unfortunately, we've let that slip away a little, I’m sad to say. But I think that it was a moment that really crystallized that we are not as safe as we had, I guess, decided we were prior to 911 happening.
Senator Bailey: It was. I remember that day as being an absolutely beautiful day. I remember being up that morning, I had gone to the barn and had fed, come back, and turned on the television just right after the first plane had hit the first tower. At first, they didn't know if it was just a small plane or if it had just been an accident that a plane had flown into it. But then immediately, I was there when the second plane hit and so it was a surreal feeling.
I remember getting into the trucking office that morning, and everything just basically just went very silent, if you will. Because in a trucking office, the phones are constantly ringing, and that day the phones quit ringing. And it was just as if America stood still in that time. And so, it was like things were in slow motion for me all day long. And then it was just an unbelievable, unbelievable event that we were witnessing.
But I believe that it brought America—as you mentioned—I believe it brought America back to its founding principles, which that's God, and I believe then for a season that we were a nation reaching out and seeking His wisdom and His guidance. And I'm hoping that we do not have to go through another event like that to see America do that again. But do you believe that the threat of terrorism is greater today or less compared to what it was 19 years ago?
Congressman Rose: Well, that's a good question. I think I've kind of got a mixed view of that. I think the threat is still very real; there are no doubt people around the world that would like to harm this country. And indeed, folks right here domestically that would like to harm the country, sadly. So, that threat is still there.
I do think that, thankfully, we sent a very strong message to al Qaeda and to terrorists, I think, of all stripes around the world that this country will respond. And so hopefully, that message is not lost on them even these 19 years later that this country will respond, I think it it's incumbent upon us, particularly—well, all Americans, but leaders of the government, in particular, to make sure that we maintain the capacity as a nation to provide an overwhelming response to anyone who would seek to harm us. And our forebears have said it well, and in any number of ways—reminded of a Reagan quote, and then thinking back to the founding fathers, the framers of the Constitution, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” And that's true about defending this country. We can't rest on our laurels.
We have to put up a strong defense constantly. And in my current role as a US representative, I believe it's far and away the number one obligation and responsibility of the federal government to protect this country. And it stands clearly and distinctly above anything else the federal government does. And we have to be vigilant about that.
And I think Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I think this country does carry a big stick, and we do typically Speak softly as a nation and have through the years, and I think that's the right tenor to have. But we have to remind the world, too. We have to remind them that this country—what we stand for and that we will defend our, our way of life and our rights, and that when called upon to do so in the right circumstances will help our allies around the world to stand up for those same principles.
Senator Bailey: At that time, did you ever think that you would be a member of Congress?
Congressman Rose: I really hadn't thought about it. I was active politically as my capacity as a business person and my personal financial capacity had developed as I got older, I got involved in supporting candidates and being active politically. And so I was tuned into that world, but really not thinking about doing that myself at that point. I fancied myself to enjoy being a gentleman farmer—and I probably shouldn't use that term—but I had succeeded in taking over the family farm and really was digging in and thinking about that in 2001. And so I wasn't thinking much about other pursuits at that point.
Senator Bailey: But what inspired you to run for Congress?
Congressman Rose: Well, so in 2016, as Chelsea and I were watching the presidential election unfold, it started to become clear to me that the country was kind of at a crossroads, I felt like, and that we had a good person in Donald Trump that had come out of the business world and seen that there was a need to refocus America and get us back on track and make America great again, and it was clear to me he needed help if he was going to succeed, and I saw it as maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a president like that who was so focused on making sure that America was great, and was not ashamed of talking about that very bluntly and directly. And so, along about that same time, I became aware that then-Representative Diane Black was thinking about running for governor and so it just kind of got in my mind, and as I told folks—Chelsea and I both were talking about that as that presidential election unfolded, and one day, she said, “Well, I either want you to shut up about this, or you got to do something about it.” And of course, I thought, “Well, I am doing something. I'm supporting good people to be in these roles.” And she said, “Well, I don't think that's enough. You need to be more actively involved.”
And so, that's really what prompted me to get interested in start thinking about it. And really, kind of, the idea being we were—she was expecting at that time, and we were thinking—or, well, a little after that. We were talking about starting a family and I was thinking about the future of the country, and that always throughout American history, each generation has passed the country along in better condition than the preceding one. And I fear that our generation is at risk of losing that unbroken streak of passing the country on in better condition. And I think we can still do that, but I think we've got to work hard to make sure that the country that we pass on to Guy and to everyone else's children and grandchildren, that it's a better country.
Senator Bailey: I agree. So, knowing now what you do about how Congress works, if you had it to do over, would you still run?
Congressman Rose: That's maybe the hardest question you’ve asked me this morning. And I think the answer is yes. But I must say that I pause a moment in thinking about that before saying yes. You know, it's an honor and privilege to represent the people in elected office, and would never say anything different, but it does take a toll on you as an individual, and on your family, and the folks around you, and so no one should ever enter into it lightly, and certainly no one should ever enter into it with the notion that it's a perk, if you will, because the demands that these offices put on you and your family, they're very real and there is a toll that you pay.
Senator Bailey: How many counties are in your 6th district?
Congressman Rose: So, we represent all or part of 19: all of 17 counties and part of two, stretching from Robertson county on the western end, little piece of Cheatham right below that, and then all the way across to Pickett county on the eastern edge along the Tennessee line, and then the next tiers of counties down, and then we have a little peninsula that sticks down to Cannon and Coffee in the south. Tullahoma is the most southern town in the district.
Senator Bailey: And the reason that I bring that point up, I represent six counties in the Upper Cumberland, and you touched on it in your answer in regards to running and continuing to be a congressman. The sacrifice that you make and that your family makes, I don't believe people understand a lot of times that when you place yourself in the public's eye, when you're elected to public office that, my constituents, they want to see me at public events, they want to be able to talk with me, they want to be able to share their concerns with me, and so—and I'm just saying I have 6 counties, you have basically 19 counties. So, I can only imagine that representing that 19 counties is really a tough job to try to be somewhere every day of every week when you're not having to be in Washington.
Congressman Rose: Well, that's very true. And one of the things I learned from watching successful legislators and office-holders through the years was that the key is showing up. And the—I guess it's not that different, really, from being successful in life. In work and—if you don't show up, you're not going to get the job done. And that's true of being an effective congressman is that you need to be present.
People want to see you and they want to share their concerns with you, and while we run to represent a certain party, we represent all of the people in the 6th district, the 2010 census says 713,928, and if you hear me talk, I say that often. And I kind of say it, kind of like we would say the pledge of allegiance, just to remind ourselves of what the values are that we adhere to, but to remind me, there's a lot of people that I'm charged with representing. And obviously, I can't adopt any one person's complete view or perspective; my job is to try to get a sense for what the vast majority of the folks in the 6th district want to see happen. And there's no substitute for seeing them and being around them to continue to have that.
And I think it's one of the reasons why, perhaps, legislators—and I think the founding fathers wanted a citizen legislature. And so I think folks should serve for a season and then go home because I think inevitably, the longer you're in office, the farther you tend to drift from having that real sense. And so, I come home every weekend, I think, with the exception of two or three, since I've been in office. I come home and try to do things on the weekends and the days that we're not in session in Washington, just so I can stay in touch with what people are thinking.
Senator Bailey: Right. So, what's been the biggest surprise about being in Congress or being a congressman?
Congressman Rose: Sure. Well, the pace and the schedule is—we've already been kind of talking about that—is really exacting, but I think if I was thinking about actually being a legislator, probably just gaining a keener awareness and understanding of how the US House of Representatives and the Congress as a whole operates today has been really eye-opening. It's a majority rule place, particularly on the House side. Unfortunately, when I was sworn in on January 3rd, 2019, the democrats had in the 2018 elections won a majority in the House, and so the speaker is Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party holds a majority in the House, and that means they set the agenda, they decide what bills get heard, they decide the terms and conditions upon which we hear legislation, and that's really been kind of eye-opening. It's very different from the Tennessee General Assembly where, by and large, at least every bill that gets introduced, will get a hearing in a committee.
And then bills that make it to the floor of the Senate or the House, they get debated on. But in the US Congress, it's very different. The House of Representatives, every matter comes to the floor under a rule that sets the terms for debate: limits whether it can be amended or not and which amendments will be heard. And so far too often, what that means for members of Congress is that with any particular bill, or issue and sometimes these bills, as probably everyone is aware, have a myriad of different issues that are being addressed, and sometimes they're completely unrelated, which again is different from the Tennessee General Assembly, and you get a yes or no vote on those. At most you may get to speak about it on the House floor, but your speech is not going to really change the day or the outcome because of the way the rules are set up.
So, you get a binary choice over and over again of the package or the bill that's before you no matter what's in it. And so, very often it's just a balancing act of is there more here that I like than I don’t. Can I take the stuff I don't like—how do I think the folks back home are going to perceive this? So, it's a difficult conundrum that I find myself in every time I vote of, what's in this bill? And almost always they package these things together where it's a mix of good and bad, and that's frustrating. I wish that Congress could change the rules under which it operates to help avoid that.
Senator Bailey: What issues do your constituents ask you about most?
Congressman Rose: Well, I think obviously, that's evolved a little with the events of 2020, so in this these last many months, obviously, I get lots of questions about Coronavirus, and about the federal response to Coronavirus; lots of folks trying to navigate the government imposed shutdowns and the assistance that the federal government has brought to bear to try to help keep businesses alive and keep folks functioning through these shutdowns. So, that, for the last many months, those issues have certainly dominated. But I think in the bigger picture, people are very concerned about the national debt. They're very concerned about the direction of the country. Obviously, again, maybe more topical for the time, they're very concerned about safety and security, both domestically and as it relates to international threats to the country.
And then certainly from conservatives and Republicans, I hear a great deal of concern about the rule of law in this country and about how this President has been treated by the justice system, and the national security apparatus, and how the other party has sought to stand in his way, and that's a very real concern to me. We've been through a really difficult three, three and a half year period where the Democrats, and particularly the leaders in the Congress have sought to deter the President, and they have used all manner of tools of the government to do that. And in many cases, misused those. And we've seen some of the deep state bureaucrats using their power to try to foil the vision of this president about how to lead the country, and that's very disturbing. So, I hear a lot about that. People want to see that, they want to see that the facts come to light and they want to see people held accountable that have misused their power.
Senator Bailey: I'll have to say that is one concern that I have, and as we get into the final part of our discussion today, I'm going to ask about the presidential election, but I'm going to make this statement and I've got a couple more follow up questions before we get to there. But my concern is, is that if Donald Trump is not reelected as our president, all of the progress that the Department of Justice has finally been able to make under Attorney General Barr could be lost and it could be lost forever. As far as a lot of the corruption that he's been able to get in, work on, uncover, and basically trying to get it brought to light. And that is one concern that I have. And maybe I'm naive in thinking that it would disappear if in fact President Trump's not reelected. But that is a true concern because if we're not able to continue to shed light on a lot of the deep state and the corruption that has been going on for the last many years under the previous administration, and what they had tried to do to President Trump's administration, that's a real concern to me.
Congressman Rose: Well, and I think it's a well-founded concern. I think we have to reflect back on the last three and a half years and remember that the President asserted even before he was sworn in that his campaign had been spied on and wiretapped. And the press, unfortunately, and I'm very disappointed in our press in this country because they pooh-poohed that, and ignored it, and derided the President for making those claims that they said were debunked and unsubstantiated. And what we know now is, in fact, exactly that happened.
And one of the hallmarks of the history of this country has been the peaceful transition of power. We go to the ballot box and we vote, and when we elect a new leader as a nation, we expect the departing leader to accede to the will of the people, and hand over the reins of power peacefully and cooperatively. And that didn't happen. And you can characterize that however you wish, but the reality is the outgoing Obama administration, and I think it's now clear that President Obama and Vice President Biden were both aware of the efforts to attempt to deter the handover of power or to detract from the way in which that happened, and they had sanctioned if not authorized, and perhaps even directed the early stages of the attempts to investigate the President or to undercut the President's team as they were coming into the White House. And they actively discussed not sharing important national security information with the incoming administration, and those things are all just wrong, and we ought to demand and expect better.
And I think regardless of your political persuasion, you should be concerned about the fact that this happened, and that we saw our national security apparatus politicized in a way that it shouldn't be. I maybe would stop short of saying that had never happened before, but certainly not in the way—in the organized way that it happened here. And then the justice system manipulated, in a way. And we've seen the first, now, guilty plea come out of the current investigations into that with an acknowledgment that the initial warrant application that was the precursor of everything that has happened was falsified by a FBI attorney who literally altered a document so as to provide the basis for this investigation. And we also know that, even before that, the predicate for the surveillance of the Trump campaign was based on a dossier that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid for, millions of dollars that they paid to have, essentially, a fraudulent dossier that was attempting to connect the President to the Russians.
And they paid for this, and it was well known that it was not reliable or accurate information, and yet the Justice Department, the FBI, perpetrated this kind of fraud upon the American people. And so there are several people that should be held accountable for this and haven't yet, and for anyone who thinks that this is just kind of a partisan view by me, consider if you'd be comfortable if the current administration was deploying exactly the same tactics against the, perhaps, next democrat administration that might come to office, whether that be this fall, this next year, or sometime in the future. Would you be comfortable if the FBI and the national security apparatus were being used to spy on the Biden campaign? Would you be comfortable with that? Would you feel like that was a responsible and correct or legal use of those facilities? That happened. We know that happened, and it should not be tolerated and people should be held accountable for that.
Senator Bailey: You're listening to backroads and backstories with Senator Paul Bailey and our guest, Congressman John Rose. So, we're talking just a little bit about what's going on in Washington. Let's ask about how the administration has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. In my opinion, I think that President Trump and his administration has done a very good job in responding to the pandemic. What's your perspective on that as far as being a member of Congress and being there and getting briefed on what's taking place in America?
Congressman Rose: Sure, and I share the view. I think the President and the administration has done a remarkable job, I would say, under the circumstances. And I think we have to go back and look at where we were earlier this year. So, as awareness and information about the virus from Wuhan, China, that we call Coronavirus, and the resulting disease called COVID-19, is that information was starting to become into focus in January of this year. We know that the Chinese were withholding information and delaying the release of information to the rest of the world.
And sadly because they stalled on that for about a month, it really amplified the harm that was done to the rest of the world, including the United States. And I think we have to hold China accountable for that, ultimately. Still some questions that haven't been answered about exactly where this virus came from, and under what circumstances that got out, and I trust that our national security folks will get to the bottom of that, ultimately. But as I think about what the President’s done and the administration have done, and for that matter, the federal government has done in response. It's not perfect, but we couldn't have expected it to be perfect.
We have to remember, first pandemic of this scale and magnitude and virulence that we've seen in 100 years, and so we also have to keep in mind that in January, I will tell you because I was there and seeing it firsthand, the US House of Representatives and for that matter, the Congress—so one-third of government was entirely focused on something else, and that was impeaching the President. And so, in the midst of all that, the President, of course, he has to walk and chew gum at the same time, so he had to not only be worried about defending himself against impeachment charges in the Senate but he also still had to lead the country. And so, I think as it began to come into focus what was going on in China, the President took bold action and stop travel first from China, and later from Europe and other places, and was derided, soundly derided by the press, and by the leaders on the Democrat side, he was called names, and xenophobic, and those types of things. And they were, by no means embracing this.
And we have to remember that Nancy Pelosi was out in the streets of San Francisco, just trying to dispel the notion that there was anything to worry about. Inviting people to Chinatown in San Francisco and saying it's wonderful, [00:40:10 unintelligible] come out and enjoy the festivities. So, it's in that context then that the President was responding. And I think, correctly so. And I guess if you were handicapping it, you would say, “Well, you should have stopped travel earlier.”
But we were getting—we had to remember what information he had and when he had it, and that even when he did it, he was derided by many in the press and experts and other leaders in Washington. And so I applaud the President for doing that. I think it was exactly the right thing to do. There's been much ado this week about comments he's made in interviews about the tenor of his remarks at the time. And I think we have to remember that he was publicly at the time saying this is serious, but we don't want to panic.
And of course, that's the kind of stable, reasoned leadership we want from the leader of the free world. And so I don't think there's anything to see there. I think this President was hopeful. We want our President to be helpful, we want him to be addressing the issues and the challenges that come before our country without panicking people. So, then we also have to remember what the experts told us and how that has unfolded.
The experts that were briefing the Congress and the President at the time told us, this is a novel virus. We don't have an effective vaccine for it, and we won't for some time, and we aren't exactly sure how to treat the patients who get this, and so at the end of the day, we can't stop the spread. And I want to emphasize that because they said that then and that's still true right now. We cannot stop the spread of coronavirus until we have a vaccine, an effective vaccine.
And so, what the experts said is that we need to flatten the curve. Everyone remembers that term: ‘flatten curve’ but when they would draw diagrams of this, they would say the same number of people are ultimately going to get Coronavirus, we just need them to get it slower. And so that was the call to shut down the economy and limit contact, was to buy time. And the reason we needed to buy time was really twofold: one, we needed to make sure there wasn't a surge in the patients with COVID-19 that would overwhelm our healthcare system, and then secondly, we wanted to buy time for healthcare professionals to develop effective therapies and responses to patients with COVID-19. And we did that, and at a very high price, I must say.
So, the President ultimately, and I think hesitantly and reluctantly, but he ultimately worked to shut down the economy, shut down the country. And governors of course across the country did that in their own way, and state by state, which of course is one of the beauties of federalism is that states get to pursue their own paths. That's part of what makes this country great. That means we saw a variety of different approaches around the country. And then we can learn from that, so-called laboratories for democracy.
And so, the way that Tennessee approached it is not exactly the same as the way New York approached it. And we've seen the outcome now, and so we can, kind of, judge. So, what we know is that in Tennessee, we never overtaxed our health care system. In Tennessee, we did not see the huge casualties in the skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes that we saw in New York, which went a different way. And so, as I look at that total response, I think we did—the President, under his leadership, the administration has done a great job.
FAnd so where are we today? We flattened the curve, we extended the period over which the virus spread, and then the President initiated what is called Operation Warp Speed, which is an initiative really led by the private sector and harnessing the ingenuity and innovative ideas of the American free enterprise system to come up with vaccines. And so, in record time it appears, perhaps yet before the end of the year, maybe even before the end of October, we may have a vaccine. Which everyone needs to keep in perspective. That compares to years that it has taken in the past to develop vaccines, in some cases as long as a decade to develop an effective vaccine against a new disease like this.
And so, if that happens, it will be nothing short of remarkable. And then what have we learned in the meantime? The health care professionals have developed effective therapies; the survival rate has gone up dramatically; they've really, I wouldn't say mastered, but they've gotten very good at treating the individuals who get coronavirus and who get COVID-19. And so I think we've seen a real success.
Now, we've learned some important lessons. Number one, we can't shut down the economy the way that we did. So, for the next pandemic, which may come tomorrow, or it may come 100 years from now, or sometime in the future, we can't approach it the way we did this one because the price that we've paid financially as a country, but in terms of health, the unintended consequences of closing down the economy, the other health consequences that people all across the country have suffered, we've learned that that approach is probably too draconian, and the next time we'll have to do it a little bit different way. And so as I think about the—I segue a little bit to politics is I think about the commitment that you heard from Vice President Biden, recently when he said if the experts say shut it down, I would shut down the American economy again. And I can confidently say that's not the right answer.
Now, we might—might we need to implement stringent protocols, and social distancing and things like that to try to stem the tide? Yes, but we can't shut down the [coughs]—this country cannot afford it. No other country was able to afford the extent of shut down that we did in this country for the time that we did, and so we can't do that again. But I think the President's done a remarkable job under difficult circumstances. And I would say it's hard to imagine that he could do a better job.
And then I just want to say, I think Tennessee has done a fantastic job, and I want to congratulate our legislature for passing liability reform that was so badly needed. I wish that could happen at the national level because I think it would help us get back to work, and back to school more quickly. But I think Tennessee is ahead of the game, and at the end of the day, as a Tennessean, I like to see Tennessee get a leg up, and I think this is a real leg up for our state. And I think people will take note of that, not just now, but in the years to come, when they think about where to live and where to locate their businesses, they're going to know Tennessee is a leader in getting things done and in responding to the crises that come along. And so I would just say to you, Senator Bailey, and the Tennessee General Assembly, a job well done.
Senator Bailey: Well, thank you for that compliment. I know that even during this difficult time, the past six months from the pandemic, we have continued to see businesses relocate to Tennessee from other states, and we have—being in the trucking business, I’ve said this multiple times in talking with groups that trucking industry is an economic indicator. We're usually the first to see an economic slowdown. We're also one of the first to see when things are booming, and I can say that transportation logistics is booming in this nation right now. And I think that our manufacturers are opening back up, they're trying to produce products, they're trying to get the American worker back to work.
Because the President shut this country down in the most robust economic boom that we'd ever seen. And so, I mean, he took a chance whenever he actually shut us down to do the safer at home, but as Americans and as Tennesseans, we have seen ourselves come out of that. And you mentioned Tennessee: we have really tried to be very proactive during these last few months to minimize the impact to our small businesses and our state. And also that came with help and assistance from the federal government, so we appreciate that. Well, we've talked about the President, and so I guess I'm going to kind of close out with this final question, and that is, what is your perspective on the Presidential election? Where are we, and where will we be in November?
Congressman Rose: Well, I think the President probably said it best in his nomination acceptance speech a couple of weeks ago which, thank you to the people of the 6th district for the privilege and honor of representing you and in turn affording me the chance to get to be there and see that historic moment on the South Lawn of the White House. But the President said something to the effect—and I'm paraphrasing—that this could not be a clear choice. And I think that's true. And I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing, but I think it is just an absolute truth that probably not in my lifetime, and perhaps not in the history of the country, have we had a clearer choice between the two leading presidential candidates of where they will take this country. On the case of President Trump, we have a person who is unapologetically pro-American: believes in this country, believes in the American ideal, and wants to see that grow and continue in advance, and wants to see that passed onto future generations of Americans.
And on the other side of the coin, we have Vice President Biden and Kamala Harris—Senator Harris—who represent a dramatic change in where America will go. And they're ashamed of our history, and want to fundamentally change this country, and move us toward socialism, which has failed everywhere it's been tried in the history of humankind, and we have stark examples of that around the world right now to look at. And so, I think it's just a very clear choice. Vice President Biden tells us he's going to dramatically raise our taxes, and he's going to limit our freedoms, and he's going to expand the federal government, take on more power at the federal level, all things which I think are diametrically opposite of what we should be doing. Right here in Tennessee, we have stark example of that.
And we can look around the rest of the country and see how that pays off. So, our conservative government here in Tennessee—frankly, through the years led by both Democrats and Republicans—have been financially responsible. They have celebrated what makes this country great: free enterprise and, and freedoms, and personal liberties. And we need to continue down that path, and we see that Tennessee has prospered as other states have failed and faltered. We see that by and large here in Tennessee, we have safe and secure communities. We don't see the kind of social disorder that has set up around the world.
We have to remember that this experiment in democracy that began with our Republic's establishment 231 years ago, that we've continually been working to improve this country and there's still work to be done. It's a work in progress, obviously. It's not perfect, it hasn't been perfect, we've made mistakes; we're flawed; we're humans. But it's the best government and the best form of government, and it has afforded us the most substantial best standard of living in the history of humankind. And so to me, it's a clear choice.
And so I think that we need to reelect President Trump. He's not perfect; nobody would claim he is. He wouldn't claim that he's perfect unless he was joking. And sometimes people don't get his sense of humor, but I think that we need to reelect President Trump, and frankly, I think we need to send back a majority to the United States Senate, and I hope that we can reclaim a majority in the US House of Representatives. I've witnessed firsthand how the democrats led by Speaker Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Maxine Waters have squandered the last year and a half in the 116th Congress. They could have gotten lots of things done.
And when I was running for Congress, two years ago for the first time, lots of people said, “Hey, I want to see I want to see folks in Washington compromise, and find solutions, and get things done.” But I will tell you that I've had no opportunity to do that because the Democrats in the House have chosen to go one direction, and that is to go far left with socialist proposals and ideologically extreme solutions that had no chance of becoming law. And they've shown no willingness to sit down and negotiate. So, just like we see right now with discussions about perhaps some additional need of aid to the businesses and individuals who've been affected by the shutdowns around the country, Speaker Pelosi has indicated forthrightly, she doesn't think she has to negotiate. That she doesn't want to negotiate. It's kind of her way or the highway.
And what we see with her, sadly, and what we so often see with ideologues that want to go that far, is that they think they live under a different set of rules than you and I live under, and so they would espouse shutting down everything, and reducing your access to commerce, and to essential services, but then we find that behind the scenes, they continue to avail themselves of the things they want. And I think people are keen to see that hypocrisy—and I hope that the country makes the right choice. The country is deeply divided, and so I don't think that's by any means certain. I think for folks here in Tennessee, we need to make sure we get out and vote. We need to give the President an overwhelming victory. We need to run up the score here in Tennessee so that we can offset the poor decisions that maybe some of our fellow citizens might make in other states.
Senator Bailey: Wow, that's exactly right. Well, just before we do a final closeout, is there anything that you would like the people at the 6th district to know about Congressman John Rose or Washington? I know we've covered a lot and you've done an extraordinary job of answering our questions and, and basically just speaking the truth. And so, any last thoughts?
Congressman Rose: Well, sure. Thank you, Senator Bailey, first off for the opportunity to be with you today. And thank you to the people of the 6th district of Tennessee for the opportunity to represent you in the US House. It's the opportunity of lifetime, and something I will always cherish and so, every day I get to be there and represent you is a real honor and a privilege. I would just want everyone to know that, as I think about the things that are important in my life, first of all, my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes first.
And then my relationship with my wife and son and our family, that’s second. And then a distant third, sadly, comes my work for you in the US House of Representatives—and I hope you appreciate that perspective that I have—but that comes third. And it's very important to me and I promise that I'll continue to work hard and try to understand the wishes and perspectives of the people of the 6th district, and make sure that your voice is heard and that your views and perspective are well-represented in Washington; we work hard every day to do that. I do have a great staff here in the district and in Washington to help me do that, and so feel free to reach out to our offices, both here in Cookeville and Gallatin. If you have an issue dealing with the federal government, or you just have a perspective or a viewpoint that you want to share.
And remember, I represent you all, so even if you feel differently about issues of the day, don't hesitate to reach out and let me know. And it's not hard to find us: you can go to johnrose.house.gov, and it has all of our contact information. Or you can call information and ask for our office, and they'll get you to the right place.
So, it's a privilege to represent Tennessee and it's interesting times. As the challenges are great, I would just say, founding fathers gave us a wonderful, democratically representative republic that has, I think, served us remarkably well. And I keep the Constitution in my top pocket all the time to remind me of the system that they set up. And so I have great confidence that if we all stay active and involved and educated about the issues of our day, that this government can serve us well, and will fix the problems that we have if we all work together. Sometimes it will be messy.
As Winston Churchill once said, “The one thing you can count on from the Americans is that they'll eventually do the right thing after they try everything else.” And he was poking fun at us, but I think he understood the remarkable system of government that had risen up here in America, in the United States. And so we're so blessed to be here, and no one should lose sight of that, no matter what your background is. If you've been lucky enough to get to this country and be a citizen in this country, how blessed we all are. Thank you.
Senator Bailey: Absolutely. Well, thank you again for being with us. We'll see you next time.
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