Ron Ramsey's trip to the State of the Union

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s special guest at the president’s State of the Union address last night. He walked out after a half hour.

While the lieutenant governor joked with fellow Senate Republicans this morning that his exit would make an entertaining political statement, he said he left the address early due to security and his need to get back to Nashville in time for session this morning.

“I’ll be right upfront with you. I stayed for the first 30 minutes of the State of the Union address. It was an experience, though. Because I was flying back last night to be here for session, and if we stayed until the end you were trapped for about an hour before they let you out in the gallery. So I left a little early,” he told the Nashville Post.

His take?

“That was fun, just the whole ceremony of it all. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences,” said Ramsey who added he had never been to the State of the Union address.

But the visit also “reiterated to me why I have no desire to go up there,” he continued. “I think our founding fathers designed a system that’s embedded with gridlock and that’s not necessarily bad. I just think what we can accomplish on a state level is much more than they can. I’m extremely happy where I am. ”

On the president’s call for governments to raise the minimum wage — an idea House Democrats have said they’ll push this year — Ramsey said he’d oppose that, saying rural areas can’t afford mandatory higher pay.

“Places like Nashville where you have trouble getting labor, minimum wage doesn’t matter because you’re always paying $2 or $3 above that, but out in the country where the living standard is less, then they need to leave it where it is now so people can find jobs,” he said.