1 year ago

Bentley discusses Alabama populism, George Wallace, Trump in Fox News Radio appearance

Former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was featured on Chris Stirewalt’s new Fox News Radio podcast, and the two discussed American populism and another former governor from the state, George Wallace.

The podcast was chapter five of the series called “Every Man A King,” which highlights the major players in Stirewalt’s new book of the same title.

Bentley was a student at the University of Alabama when Wallace had his infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” and, as he was taking summer classes at the time, actually attended and watched from a distance.

In Bentley’s recollection, his classmates were certainly not on Wallace’s side in that moment in history.

“[T]here was not a [racist] attitude. No-one really cared if the African-American students were admitted to the University of Alabama. There was not an uproar about it among the students. I do not remember a single student saying anything negative about them being enrolled,” he said.

However, Wallace’s audience was not the student body.

“He was not playing to us,” Bentley advised.

Wallace’s rhetoric was aimed at the masses – those who would not have been in the exclusive group of college-educated Alabamians in 1963.

He was influential, not just in the Yellowhammer State, but all across the Deep South.

Bentley told the Fox News host that his popularity stemmed from the region’s dislike of being told what to do by elites from elsewhere in the country.

“The South is made up of some unique people – very strong-willed, mostly farmers, mostly sawmillers, mostly people who are not educated but who had Scotch-Irish backgrounds. They fought a lot, they didn’t like people telling them what to do,” Bentley explained.

Wallace’s first run for governor in 1958 was akin to Huey Long populism, taking from the rich and powerful to give to the average-Joe. However, Wallace lost that campaign and then famously vowed to add race-baiting to his rhetoric in order to win next time.

Bentley commented, “I would never have done that, however, that was his choice, and I think George Wallace wanted power. He didn’t want money, he wanted power. And this is how he could develop a power structure.”

Stirewalt pointed out that Wallace had a long moral arc and his run in 1976 was essentially an apology for his previous racial rhetoric.

Bentley and Stirewalt also discussed the realignment of the Democratic Party based on their support of civil rights. As working-class white voters began to feel disenfranchised, they stopped voting for national Democrats.

This is exemplified by Wallace’s run for president in 1964 as a Dixiecrat, when he found support outside of the South in places like Wisconsin.

“I think their feeling was the same as many Southerners, they felt disenfranchised. They felt like the people [in power] had pushed things on them, that it changed their lifestyle,” Bentley outlined.

Wallace knew how to communicate to these working class people across the country who were scared of being cast aside by society.

Bentley added, “I think they were drawn more to his populism and that type of thinking. Race played a role in it, there’s no doubt about it, but it was the same feeling like telling me I’m not good enough.”

He thinks Wallace was trying to help struggling Alabamians, but taking the easy road on his quest for power clouded his intentions.

“I think Wallace, basically, was a good man,” Bentley opined. “I think he wanted to do the right thing but he was overpowered by his search for ambition. And he let that overtake the goodness that he knew – the way he should be.”

Wallace’s faults were part of the reason Bentley voted for Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964 against Lyndon B. Johnson, who was running for election to his own term approximately a year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy elevated him to the presidency.

The former Alabama governor discussed growing up in a staunchly Democratic state as a Republican and seeing the state flip from blue to red over his lifetime. He also outlined the unique political quirks in the Heart of Dixie.

Bentley detailed, “Alabama is really divided into different sections. Northern Alabama is totally different from southern Alabama, and you have the Scotch-Irish, the Appalachian people. They were very independent, there were a lot of Republicans in those areas. In fact, where I grew up in Shelby County, we had a party called the Populist Republicans of Alabama. There’s a book that’s written on that … it was in three counties, and in fact, my dad was a Populist-Republican. He never voted Democrat, never voted for Wallace. And I grew up as a Populist-Republican.”

Now, the national Republican Party is populist-driven.

“Shelby County was just ahead of its time,” Stirewalt quipped.

“It’s amazing how things have changed in Alabama, just like they have in a lot of Southern states,” Bentley responded.

The roots of Wallace’s populism and Trump, as far as voter mindset goes, are one-in-the-same.

“I think the thing about it is people everywhere, they have a certain lifestyle. They don’t like someone coming in, saying ‘you are wrong and we’re going to make you change.’ That makes people defensive,” Bentley advised.

Stirewalt and Bentley also discussed Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and even Alabama football.

Bentley reflected, “I think the South, and it really goes back to the Civil War, they always felt like people looked down on them … So, [Alabama] said if we can’t do anything else, we can beat them in football. And ‘we’re going to win something.’”

He also explained Bear Bryant’s lasting Alabama legacy outside of historic on-the-field success.

“[W]hen coach Bryant came to Alabama and integrated the team, it did more for opening things up than probably anything else. Because you could cheer for black athletes, and they were not black and white athletes – they were Alabama football players,” Bentley said.

“Red is the only color that matters,” Stirewalt added.

The entire 34-minute conversation can be heard here.

The interview notably comes as Bentley is seeming to ease back into public life, with speculation brewing that he is contemplating a run for the United States Senate in 2020.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

Playoff committee ranks Alabama No. 5, Auburn No. 12 – Five takeaways

The college football playoff committee announced its next round of rankings on Tuesday evening, and sent a few messages in the process. Here are five takeaways:

1. The committee has now taken two inconsistent approaches to ranking Alabama. Committee chairman Rob Mullens went to great lengths last week to say the committee held the Crimson Tide in high regard for its personnel and overall ability. Yet, in this week’s ranking, the committee dropped Alabama below a Georgia team which has shown it does not have an elite unit on either side of the ball and has a home loss to a bad South Carolina team on its resume.

Georgia beat a mediocre Missouri team last weekend. Alabama took a close loss — now the best loss in the country — to No. 1 LSU with a hobbled Tua Tagovailoa. If the committee indeed held Alabama in high regard last week, this week’s events should have done nothing to vault Georgia ahead of the Tide.


2. “Auburn is the most important non-contender in all of college football.” Those were the words of ESPN studio host Rece Davis. Perhaps that was the network’s finest analysis of the evening. The fate of three highly-ranked teams is tied to the outcome of Auburn’s remaining games. The No. 12 Tigers face No. 4 Georgia this weekend and No. 5 Alabama in the Iron Bowl in three weeks. We wrote earlier this week about how Crimson Tide fans will want to practice saying ‘War Eagle’ heading into Auburn’s matchup on Saturday. An Auburn win is good for Alabama any way you cut it.

Oregon is sneaking around the top-four itself, and so for Auburn to keep winning would help their loss in Dallas look a little more forgivable. Auburn will now have a few hundred thousand extra fans in its corner by kickoff on Saturday.

3. Alabama now gets to see how the other half lives. The reality is that by this point in any season most teams get into the playoff as a result of some other teams’ misfortune. That’s rarely been the case for Alabama. The Tide have largely steamrolled into the playoffs year after year. At No. 5, with some future conference champions right behind them, Alabama needs some help. Clemson looking past one of their remaining inferior opponents and choking away a game would help. But so would some losses from one of the teams behind them. Which brings us to…

4. The committee sure wants to place a PAC 12 champion in the playoff this year. It’s been three years since a PAC 12 team made the playoff. There have only been two teams from the conference to ever make the top-four. The committee seems to be angling for that to change this year. Oregon came in at No. 6 this week, and Utah came in at No. 7. It certainly look as if the committee is setting up a strategy to put one of those two in the playoff as a conference champion. Alabama could use Utah and Oregon to take another loss to become a two-loss champion. A statement win against Auburn (who beat Oregon) in the Iron Bowl would help make its case, as well.

5. The Big 12 will be sitting this year’s playoff out. The committee does not think highly of the Big 12 — at all. One-loss Oklahoma is ranked No. 10, while undefeated Baylor is ranked directly behind two two-loss teams at No. 13. The message from the committee is clear: the Big 12 should make other plans for New Years. Even seven-time national champion Minnesota made the leap to respectability with its No. 8 ranking this week. Oklahoma and Baylor can only dream.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

10 hours ago

Dale Jackson: You’re the real MVP, Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions is still the MVP of the Trump administration.

Sessions’ tireless work in his time as a U.S. senator laid the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s America First agenda, and his early endorsement gave Trump the legitimacy he needed to win over conservatives to put him in the White House. He was one of the president’s most trusted advisors on the campaign trail, traveling all over the country with him to pitch their unified agenda.

The two were united because most of the policies that make Donald Trump so popular in the state of Alabama were championed by Jeff Sessions for decades before Trump sought public office.

Without Sessions, Trump probably doesn’t make it into the White House.


The former attorney general joined WVNN radio on Tuesday to discuss why he jumped on the Trump train so early, saying, “What I felt so good about was that I’d come to take a very strong stand on immigration, on defending American manufacturing, even I thought we needed to be more careful, a lot more careful on getting involved in wars around the globe. And boy, President Trump came forward, he seized the public’s attention, he advocated those issues and I thought he would follow through with them, and he has.”

Despite that, the unfair criticism from the president has flowed relatively freely, but Sessions has refused to, as he called it, “waffle” in his support of Trump.

Sessions told “The Dale Jackson Show” that he thinks Trump is still doing a good job to this day.

“I traveled with him all over the country, and I believe in him and his agenda and he’s performed, I think, exceedingly well,” he shared.

Of course, every one of Sessions’ opponents in this Senate race will try to diminish an honorable and successful career to one thing: His time as AG and Trump’s reaction to his reasonable recusal from all things Russia.

In the interview, Sessions addressed concerns about his recusal in the Russian collusion investigation, explaining he felt it was clearly black and white.

“I believe that [recusing] was the only thing I could do,” he explained. “I believe we reviewed it carefully, and the regulations in the Department of Justice are specific. If you are a participant in a campaign, and I was a high level, full, just totally campaigned for Trump. I held a title of foreign national security advisor. So that was the deal. And it says explicitly, you can’t investigate your own campaign.”

Sessions also argued that as a member of the campaign, he knew there was no collusion, adding he was not afraid of an investigation into it because he knew nothing had happened.

My takeaway:

As the Mueller report reflected, Sessions was 100% correct. He was right to recuse himself.

And not only was Sessions 100% correct on that, but the president gained some major political points by being cleared by Robert Mueller, who was heralded for years by the left-wing media as being above reproach.

He will also gain from beating the media and their Democrats on impeachment.

But if the president had just listened to former Attorney General Sessions, he would have been a lot better off, both legally and politically, because everything Sessions predicted about the investigation bore out as he said it would, with a full exoneration of the president.

Meanwhile, Sessions was fighting to help build the wall, expand free speech to college campuses around the country, fight back on DACA, defend religious freedom, and most importantly, begin the investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion investigation.

Everything good about Donald Trump has the fingerprints of Jeff Sessions all over it.

For that reason, Sessions remains the MVP of the Trump administration and is someone the president should be very thankful he had, and still has, on his team, regardless of how the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary plays out.


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

10 hours ago

Jessica Taylor endorsed by GOP State Rep. Will Dismukes in AL-02 race

PRATTVILLE — Conservative Republican congressional candidate Jessica Taylor on Tuesday was endorsed by State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02).

A group of supporters braved the cold to stand behind Taylor, as Dismukes stood alongside her, at Heritage Park in historic downtown Prattville for the announcement.

Dismukes, a first term state legislator, recently withdrew his candidacy for this same Second Congressional District seat, citing not being able to raise the requisite funds to competitively continue in the race.

Speaking on Tuesday, he enthusiastically threw his support behind Taylor, who is a businesswoman and attorney from Prattville.


“As a candidate for Congress, I highlighted my conservative plan to end abortion on demand, protect our Christian values and enact term limits on members of Congress to help President Trump drain the swamp,” Dismukes said. “However, after thoughtful prayer, I decided recently that it was not my time to seek election [for AL-02].”

“Our country desperately needs a new generation of conservatives to take on radical socialists like AOC, Ilhan Omar and their ‘squad.’ That’s why, today, I’m endorsing Jessica Taylor for Congress. Because she will go and fight socialism that is a major threat to our democracy, and I believe in my heart that Jessica is the right leader for this district, for this state and for this country,” he continued.

“She has the courage, the principles and the hook-shot to take on the radical leftists, protect the right to life, defend the second amendment and help President Trump drain the swamp!” Dismukes added, referring to Taylor’s viral campaign announcement video.

Taylor expressed her appreciation for Dismukes’ endorsement before speaking briefly on some of her campaign’s focuses.

“As conservatives, we must push back against the radical left’s teaching of our generation that socialism is an ideology that we should embrace,” Taylor stressed.

“As your congresswoman, I will go to D.C. to protect life, the Second Amendment and support President Trump,” she continued. “We need a new generation of conservatives who can fight “The Squad,” AOC — all of the folks who are brainwashing our generation.”

She outlined that a recent poll stated that over 70% of millennials responded that they support socialism and approximately 1/3 even responded that they support communism.

“This is something that we cannot accept,” Taylor commented.

You can view a video of Tuesday’s announcement event here.

Other qualified GOP candidates in the race include Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise).

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt names Kerry Knott chief of staff

Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04) on Tuesday officially announced the hire of Capitol Hill veteran Kerry Knott as his chief of staff.

Knott most recently ran Knott Strategies, LLC, where he helped Ravi Zacharias International Ministries focus on Washington, D.C.-based ministry opportunities. Knott notably helped create “At The Table,” a new event series designed to bring influential people together across industries to address important cultural and policy issues.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “I am very excited to be bringing Kerry Knott onboard as our new Chief of Staff.”

“Kerry is extremely talented. His many years of service in both the public and private sectors give him a great wealth of information and the skills needed to oversee my office staff and achieve our legislative priorities. As a native of Guntersville, Alabama, I know Kerry will always make serving the people of the 4th Congressional District the top priority in our office, everyday,” the congressman added.


Knott’s congressional experience is extensive, including serving from 1985 to 1998 as the chief of staff to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. In this role, Knott helped craft the 1994 “Contract with America,” which helped Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

“Congressman Aderholt has a great heart for our nation and for the state of Alabama,” Knott stressed. “It shows by his character, his integrity and in his effectiveness. It’s an honor to join his team and to help him accomplish his plans for our nation and for the 4th District of Alabama.”

Knott and his wife, Michelle Morgan Knott, live in Arlington, Virginia, with their three children: Sydney, Charlie and Austin. He is a native of Guntersville and graduated from Guntersville High School in 1978 and Auburn University in 1982.

Knott fills the void left by former Aderholt chief of staff Brian Rell, who recently departed to lead the D.C. office of Birmingham-based Balch and Bingham.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Schumer deputy fundraising for Doug Jones

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the highest-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership besides Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), is now publicly raising money for endangered Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

In a recent tweet, Durbin urged his followers to donate to Jones’ campaign.

The tweet links to a fundraising landing page with Durbin’s own campaign logo on it.

“Contribute now to help Doug Jones beat Jeff Sessions in Alabama’s Senate race,” the page urges.

This follows a trend of national Democrats fundraising for Jones based off of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions entering the crowded Republican primary to reclaim his old Senate seat.


Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) presidential campaign launched a fundraising blitz with contributions split between her campaign and Jones’, and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have followed suit. Schatz also serves on Schumer’s Senate Democratic leadership team as chief deputy whip.

Per Murphy, his and Schatz’s respective fundraising appeals raised $40,000 for Jones’ campaign in the first day alone.

Jones welcomed the support, tweeting, “It is awesome to be in the company of such great friends – and true public servants.”

In the past three quarters, Jones raised 77%, 88% and 88%, respectively, of his individual itemized contributions from outside the state of Alabama.

Californians and New Yorkers have been Jones’ largest sources of funding, with the Washington, D.C. area and other liberal metropolitan strongholds like Chicago also playing major roles.

In addition to Sessions, the competitive GOP Senate primary field includes former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn