Trump has endorsed Hagerty, a former U.S. ambassador to Japan and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Tennessee by more than 25 percentage points in 2016.
Hagerty is competing against Nashville surgeon Dr. Manny Sethi and about a half-dozen other Republicans for the GOP nomination to run for the seat now held by retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Hagerty, during a stop at the Kingsport Chamber, said Trump’s impeachment inquiry has strengthened the president’s support in Tennessee.
“I think the people are really fed up with what’s going on up in Washington with what is essentially a kangaroo court,” Hagerty noted. “I think it’s a process that began the night the president crossed 270 electoral votes. I volunteered (for the Trump campaign as his Tennessee chairman) for six months in 2016 to help the president. ... They couldn’t beat the president in 2016 at the polls. They don’t have the candidate. I watched (the Democratic debate) last night, and they don’t have a candidate who could possibly beat him in 2020. ... He reminded me the other day I’m the only member of his administration that he has endorsed to be in the U.S. Senate.”
Hagerty touted his experience as a business outsider, pledged to support Trump’s plan to build a southern border wall and to be pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
When asked about his expectations for the GOP primary campaign, Hagerty responded, “My expectation is to win it. I didn’t come home to do anything but that.”
Hagerty raised $1.9 million in his first month of campaigning after announcing his candidacy in September, according to the Federal Election Commission. The commission says Sethi has about $2 million in cash on hand, including a $1.52 million personal loan to his campaign.