Byrne: October 2016 call for Trump to step down from GOP ticket ‘a mistake’ — ‘You learn from your mistake and you do better’
MUSCLE SHOALS — Despite having voted with President Donald Trump nearly 97% of the time over his career (and 100% of the time in 2019), there’s one thing that continues to dog U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate, regarding his relationship with the current commander-in-chief.
Back in October 2016, Byrne made what many perceived to be a miscalculation regarding then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post published audio of Trump making lewd comments about women in 2005 to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood.” Not even 24 hours after the Post report surfaced, Byrne and a few of his other fellow Republicans suggested Trump step aside and let then-Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence assume the presidential nomination.
“Donald Trump’s comments regarding women were disgraceful and appalling,” Byrne said in a statement to the media issued on October 8, 2016. “There are absolutely no circumstances under which it would ever be appropriate to speak of women in such a way.”
“It is now clear Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States and cannot defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe he should step aside and allow Governor Pence to lead the Republican ticket.”
Saturday during a question-and-answer session following an address to the Shoals Republican Club, Byrne was asked by Madison Republican activist Tom Scovill about his decision to react as he did to the Post’s report.
Scovill’s question was a follow-up question to Byrne’s statement regarding his decision not to abandon 2017 GOP special election senatorial nominee Roy Moore during his controversy, and if that was “learning.”
The U.S. senatorial hopeful called it a “mistake,” and explained how he has learned from making mistakes.
“Yes, sir,” Byrne replied. “Do you ever learn? I learn every day. And part of learning is knowing when you make a mistake, you learn from your mistake and you do better next time. That’s what I do. I do that all the time. Smart people are not people that don’t make mistakes. Smart people are people that learn from their mistakes. And I make mistakes. I don’t ever say that I don’t make mistakes. I think actually wise people understand they make mistakes and they deal with their mistakes. And they move on.”
The subject could become a thorny campaign issue for Byrne during the primary as Republican candidates over the last few election cycles have sought to bolster their campaigns by touting their Trump bona fides.
According to a report from NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard, former State Rep. Perry Hooper, Jr. said Byrne’s statement could sway Trump to rival former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s camp.
Currently, there are only three formally announced candidates: Byrne, Tuberville and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs). Other potential candidates include former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and freshman State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville).