Haslam congratulates Trump; doesn't expect negative repercussions despite lack of endorsement

Haslam congratulates Trump; doesn't expect negative repercussions despite lack of endorsement

November 9th, 2016 by Andy Sher in Politics State

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks to reporters in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, about the presidential election results. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Fla.

President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd during...

Photo by Matt Rourke

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NASHVILLE - As Tennessee Republicans offered congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump on his Tuesday victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the state's top GOP official, Gov. Bill Haslam, who publicly announced he wouldn't and didn't vote for the GOP nominee, said "we look forward to working" with his administration.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that he didn't believe there would be any negative repercussions over his stance, which he announced after a 2005 Access Hollywood videotape surfaced in which Trump bragged of groping women.

"I don't think so," said Haslam, who also has expressed concerns over some of Trump's positions such as trade. "I was very encouraged by his [conciliatory] tone last night, and anybody who saw that would say that that was the exact right tone for him to hit."

Moreover, Haslam added, Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, "is a good, close friend of mine. Mike and I talk frequently, when we were governors we worked on a lot of issues together, and I actually think our relationship with Mike _ excuse me, Vice President-elect Pence, will be a real benefit to the state as well."

Haslam drew fire from rank-and-file Tennessee Republicans during the campaign for his stance in which he also called on Trump to step aside and allow Pence to become the nominee.

The governor has said he wrote in another Republican candidate but wouldn't specify whom.

"I had some questions about President-elect Trump," Haslam said. "I had some big concerns with Secretary Clinton. As a governor, there's some good news. Trump has spoken basically a lot about giving power back to the states. That's a good thing."

Earlier in the day, Republicans U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann congratulated Trump.

"The American people and the citizens of Tennessee have spoken in a remarkable and resounding way, and I congratulate President-elect Trump on his hard earned win," Corker said in his statement.

Corker also said "the real work now begins as we address the many challenges facing our great country, and I am looking forward to working with President Trump and the rest of the Congress to move our country forward."

Trump won 61.06 percent in Tennessee's vote and will receive the state's 11 electoral votes.

"I wholeheartedly congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his historic and hard-fought win," Fleischmann said in a statement. "America has spoken and it's time Washington listens. I look forward to working with him and continuing to serve the Third District of Tennessee."

While some Tennessee Republicans in addition to Haslam spurned Trump, Corker did not and at one point was under consideration as his running mate until he withdrew his name.

Another Tennessean celebrating Trump's victory is Bill Hagerty, who helped fund raise for Trump, served as chairman of the Tennessee Trump Victory effort and has been working in the now-president-elect's transition as his director of presidential appointments.

"I think what we saw was the fact that the experts didn't see the level of enthusiasm, the level of conviction," Hagerty said.

But he said "anybody who drove through Tennessee" could find ample evidence Trump's impact on voters here.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on twitter at AndySher1.


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