Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) is doubling down on his harshest criticisms of President Donald Trump while also announcing that he has no plans to run against the president in 2020.
However, in his interview on Reckon Radio, Jones did reveal who his preferred Democratic choice is to beat Trump.
In the second Yellowhammer News article looking at Jones’ wide-ranging interview (you can read the first on Jones’ re-election bid here), we look at this, as well as Jones’ thoughts on Trump, modern political rhetoric and the book Jones is releasing in a few months.
When it comes to Trump, Jones admitted that Trump has done some good things, but hedged by calling even these accomplishments “a mixed bag.”
Jones told host John Hammontree, “I think it’s a mixed bag right now because he has done some things primarily through regulation that a lot of businesses and folks like. Some of them, I think, were good. Some of them, I think he went too far.”
Jones then took a swipe at the president, saying that Trump has “divided this country a lot.”
“The biggest problem I see right now is that the president simply uses his Twitter account and says things that are simply not true. And he uses that as a weapon for political reasons. And he’s really divided this country a lot,” Jones outlined.
He continued, “And the interesting thing about that is I think as much as any president that I’ve seen in a long time, he has the ability to bring the country together if he would just do it. But I’m afraid he is continuing to just try and divide people along racial lines, along economic lines, any number of things that he really doesn’t have to do.”
The junior senator from Alabama then used one of his favorite phrases to double back and say the president has not actually done much, forgetting to mention that he needs 60 votes to pass things through the Senate.
“I think that it’s going to be interesting, he’s had both houses of Congress, but yet there’s not a lot except the tax bill, which is a mixed bag for America, it’s not the be all to end all, it’s a mixed bag,” Jones asserted. “There’s not a lot of legislative accomplishments that he’s been able to do.”
Now, Jones believes Trump can either compromise with Democrats in the interest of “progress” or else he “can continue to try to polarize the country.”
Jones advised that unless the president gives ground to Democrats, they will not let much through Congress.
“But if he’s willing to talk to us, we can do a lot of things. We can get immigration reform, we might can get some good gun sense policy that will help reduce the number of deaths in this country,” Jones said.
Rhetoric (and more on Trump)
Later in the interview, Jones doubled down on a previous assertion he made that Trump’s rhetoric reminded him of George Wallace, putting it in the specific context of bombs being recently sent to leading Democratic and media figures.
“It speaks for itself, you know we come from a state and, don’t forget, right before those bombs were found, there were two African Americans killed in Kentucky where a guy tried to get into a church, went across the street to a grocery store … I think rhetoric like what we have seen, particularly from the [Trump] administration, is very dangerous,” Jones told Hammontree.
Jones continued, “In this state, we have seen words matter. And words have consequences. In my view, and I’ve studied the Civil Rights Movement an awful lot, as you know, and what I saw were political leaders in this state – Wallace and Bull Connor in particular – that in effect empowered people like the Klan and others to just have their way and do the things that resulted in four deaths in a church. It resulted in the deaths of two children, two black boys, that same day. Other bombs being planted.”
Jones then called Trump “the Offender in Chief of this rhetoric,” adding that his recent comments on the caravan traveling from Central America were the latest example.
The junior senator afterward admitted that Trump was not the sole “offender” in his view, as Democratic congressmen (like Maxine Waters) from across the country have encouraged supporters to harass Republicans.
“We need to dial back this rhetoric,” Jones said.
“But it really starts with the American public, as well,” he added.
Jones’ book, not running for president and who he will support
Jones went on to discuss his upcoming book, “Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights,” that will be released in March (not January as originally scheduled).
“It’s a play on Dr. King’s words that the arc of the [moral] universe is long but it bends towards justice,” Jones explained. “It is primarily a memoir about the church bombing cases.”
It traces Jones’ upbringing in metro Birmingham, through college and his professional career as a prosecutor.
In the book, he uses this famous prosecution to segue into a “little bit about the campaign and the election and just kind of the state of politics in general.”
Jones then said, 2019 book aside, he “has no plans” to run for president in the 2020 cycle.
While laughing, he said, “There is nothing like that on my radar.”
Jones advised that he sees the 2020 Democratic primary field being “wide open,” but that he would tend to support his old friend, former Vice President Joe Biden, over anyone else who may run.
“He’s just an amazing man,” Jones emphasized. “He’s an incredible and gifted public servant.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn