4 weeks ago

Trump gives closing pitch supporting ‘true conservative’ Tuberville in Tuesday’s runoff

President Donald Trump on Monday evening held a telephone town hall with former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville ahead of Alabama’s primary runoff Election Day on Tuesday.

Trump has endorsed Tuberville in the Republican U.S. Senate runoff against former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions was Trump’s first attorney general after being an early supporter of his 2016 campaign, however the president has strongly criticized Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia investigation. Trump has even called on Sessions to drop out of the Senate race, and Tuberville appeared on Air Force One with the president recently.

During the pre-runoff tele town hall, Trump continued to urge Alabamians to send a fresh choice to Washington, D.C., bashing Sessions in the process.

“[T]omorrow is a big day,” Tuberville said at the beginning of the call.

Introducing the president, Tuberville commented, “I saw how he was fighting the D.C. swamp and the people all around him, and I made up my mind at that time that God had sent Donald Trump to us  — and he needed some help. So that’s the reason I’m doing this today, trying to support and represent the state of Alabama and go stand beside President Donald Trump.”

Trump began his remarks by noting, “It’s great to be speaking to the people of Alabama, a place I love, a place where we’ve had tremendous success. Where they like me and I like them — maybe love is a better word, frankly. But it’s been a great state.”

“And I love helping you,” Trump continued. “And one of the ways that we’re going to be helping you is recommending strongly Tommy Tuberville to be your next senator. He’s a tremendous guy.”

“Tommy is a very special guy. He’s a leader, he’s a real conservative — a true conservative,” the president said of Tuberville. “And he loves your state. And he loves this country. He will protect your Second Amendment like I’m doing.”

Trump said the former football coach will staunchly support securing the United States’ border with Mexico, including building “the wall.”

The president also discussed his own reelection campaign, as well as the state of his administration. Accomplishments he highlighted included rebuilding the military and reforming the Veterans Affairs system.

Trump said he views Tuberville as someone who will further help him in bettering the country’s treatment of its veterans.

‘I had no idea it could be as bad as it was’

The president then turned his attention to Sessions.

“I will tell you, I got to know Jeff Sessions very well,” Trump explained. “I made a mistake when I put him in as the attorney general. He had his chance, and he blew it. He recused himself right at the beginning — just about on day one — on a ridiculous scam, the Mueller scam, the ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ scam. And Jeff didn’t have the courage to stay there.”

“He immediately ran for the hills,” the president added of Sessions. “And he ruined a lot of lives, a lot of very innocent, good lives — people that went there all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they went there and they ended up getting caught up in a scam. It was a scam of Pelosi and Schiff and just a horrible thing — Schumer — a horrible, horrible thing.”

He then contrasted Tuberville and Sessions.

“Tommy Tuberville is going to do a job like you haven’t seen,” Trump stressed. “He’s going to take over, and he’s going to be representing you well. He’s going to have a call direct-line into my office. That I can tell you.”

“We had the Jeff Sessions thing, we gave it a shot. I had no idea it could be as bad as it was,” the president advised. “But he had no clue. And he just let it get away from him. It’s really a shame.”

Trump subsequently highlighted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a marquee accomplishment of his administration.

Speaking of these “big tax cuts,” Trump added, “Tommy’s going to help me, because we’re going for additional tax cuts.”

He also noted his administration’s track record of getting rid of burdensome government regulations that unnecessarily hamper economic growth. Trump touted America becoming “energy independent” during his presidency.

“Tommy is going to do great for Alabama. Tommy is going to be a real solid guy — he’ll never let you down,” Trump emphasized.

The president, in wrapping up his comments, once again encouraged Alabamians to go out and vote for Tuberville on Tuesday.

“He’ll be a tremendous senator,” Trump said.

‘It’s time to continue to send outsiders to Washington, D.C.’

The call was not advertised to the media, however Yellowhammer News was one of the many registered voters invited via text message to tune in.

Tuberville spoke at length after Trump left the call. The Senate candidate outlined — among other items — his support for law enforcement, conservative judges, getting God back in schools and combatting the rise of socialism.

“I want to fight,” Tuberville remarked. “I’m a fighter. I’m not a follower, I’m a leader. We need a leader from the state of Alabama that’s going to fight.”

He then lamented the drug epidemic plaguing many rural communities in the Yellowhammer State. Tuberville spoke about his support for rural economic development, including bringing jobs back from overseas into local communities.

“We’re losing population, we’re losing our kids — they’re moving out-of-state,” he advised. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

Tuberville subsequently commented, “China’s been a mess.”

He voiced his support for bringing manufacturing and other jobs back from China “to give our kids an opportunity to stay in this state, have good jobs, have families and enjoy life in the great state of Alabama.”

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Tuberville added. “I’m doing this for the right reasons. I believe in this country. I believe in this state. I believe in the people.”

“President Trump’s done a great job being President of the United States, being a businessperson” he concluded. “Now it’s time to continue to send outsiders to Washington, D.C., and help make those hard decisions. Let’s go out and vote tomorrow.”

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Masks are strongly recommended to be worn at polling sites but cannot legally be required. Local elections officials, supported by Secretary of State John Merrill’s office, have taken steps to sanitize voting locations while enabling social distancing as much as possible.

The winner of the GOP Senate runoff will go on to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

Sessions, shortly after the Trump-Tuberville tele town hall, appeared on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

On Tuesday, there are also Republican runoffs for Congress in AL-01 and AL-02, as well as a statewide race for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, among other respective local matters.

You can find your polling location and sample ballot here.

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

53 mins ago

Crimson Tide star helps spearhead effort to save college football season

University of Alabama running back Najee Harris is a leader in the #WeWantToPlay movement to save the 2020 college football season.

On Monday, the Big 10 canceled its fall football season, according to reports, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow their lead.

That leaves the SEC, ACC and Big 12 as the remaining Power 5 conferences yet to make a decision on playing their fall schedules.

While some of the national (and in-state) sports media world continues to cheer the death of the season, key players from Power 5 schools on Sunday jumped on a conference call to try and rescue the situation.

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ESPN reported that the Crimson Tide’s Harris was one of the players on the call, along with the likes of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

During that call, the players came up with a list of key takeaways to share with the college football universe. That list has been turned into a graphic and shared widely on social media by players since the call.

Former Bama quarterback Greg McElroy reacted to the players’ efforts in a tweet on Monday.

“All weekend, it felt like the 2020 College Football Season was doomed,” he said. “But, the #WeWanttoPlay movement has given it new life. Ultimately, I don’t know if it will make a difference, but it feels like the players are the only people that can make a season happen.”

Kristen Saban Setas, daughter of head coach Nick Saban, also advocated for the season to occur in a tweet of her own.

If the SEC ultimately forges ahead with a season (with or without the ACC and Big 12), there could also be the question of further conference alignment changes — at least for this fall.

One Ohio State player has suggested the Buckeyes bail on the Big 10 and play in the SEC this year, and Notre Dame has already signed up with the ACC in an effort to preserve their season.

Even more movement is expected this week in the college football world, with the SEC, ACC and Big 12 each set to hold regularly scheduled meetings of their directors of athletics.

Reports on Monday morning said that Texas and Oklahoma are the Big 12 schools trying to save their fall season, however the SEC could be looking to scoop up those schools if the Big 12 as a whole decides not to play this year.

Right now, the SEC has adopted a conference-only, 10-game schedule for this season.

Alabama is scheduled to play homes games versus Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Texas A&M, along with contests at Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee.

Auburn has home games against Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M, as well as games at Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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

2 hours ago

Alabama pre-apprenticeship program launched to create better pathways to workforce

The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA) announced Monday a new program for those seeking to develop marketable skills and enter the workforce quickly.

The pre-apprenticeship initiative will use “a combination of curriculum, on-the-job training and simulated work experiences” in order to “allow a person to gain access to a specific industry and improve existing skills,” according to a release from AlabamaWorks.

Individuals applying for the pre-apprenticeship must include a signed memorandum of agreement with a registered apprenticeship program for the application to be considered by the AOA.

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The application instructions available on the agency’s website indicate that those applying for a pre-apprenticeship have an amount of flexibility in constructing the experience they will undergo as part of the pre-apprenticeship.

AlabamaWorks says that pre-apprenticeship programs also help employers, because they provide “pre-screened, ready-to-work employees who have already begun their training.”

“A major focus of the AOA right now is to help employers think beyond these uncertain times and use this moment as an opportunity to invest in their own future success,” Josh Laney, director of AOA remarked in a statement.

“Ultimately our economy will rebound and the companies who are investing in training programs now will be the ones poised to capitalize when it does,” he continued.

Laney concluded, “Apprenticeships are also going to serve as critical vehicles for people to access the training they need to become re-employed in higher skilled and more durable occupations.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

2 hours ago

Alabama GOP legislative leaders request fourth presidential debate in Yellowhammer State

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL), State Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and State House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) have requested that an additional presidential debate be scheduled ahead of November’s general election.

The Republican legislative leaders jointly sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking for a fourth debate on top of the three previously scheduled by the commission.

Currently, presidential debates are set for September 29 in Cleveland, OH; October 15 in Miami, FL; and October 22 in Nashville, TN. The election will be held on November 3, featuring President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively.

Ainsworth, Reed and Ledbetter began their letter, “In order to continue preserving fairness and transparency in this year’s presidential election, we are writing today to request that an additional, earlier debate be held in our home state of Alabama, this September.”

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“As you are aware, presidential debates are a critical part of the electoral process,” they advised. “Unlike television ads or pre-written speeches, debates give Americans a firsthand look at each candidate’s own policies and intellect in an unscripted setting. They allow voters to hear the candidates’ platforms firsthand and give candidates the opportunity to respond to the tough questions at the forefront of every voter’s mind.”

The three Alabama officials explained that the current debate schedule begins too late, considering Alabamians will have already begun casting absentee ballots before the first presidential debate. More voters are expected to choose the absentee route this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary of State John Merrill has extended absentee voting because of the ongoing pandemic to ensure all eligible voters are able to exercise their rights.

“This monumental election will determine the very future of our nation. The least we can do is equip voters with the facts necessary to aid them in electing the next President of the United States,” Ainsworth, Reed and Ledbetter concluded.

Read the full letter here.

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

3 hours ago

This back-to-school season, families should decide

Parents and other observers have many understandable questions about how their local school districts are responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

At this juncture, I don’t think it’s helpful to lay much blame on anyone. There will be plenty of time for that in the future, and when the dust settles, we’re likely to find that there is real blame to go around from the state board of education all the way down to your kid’s geometry teacher. It is probably true that some number of educators and administrators did not make proper use of the time they had in late spring and early summer to adequately plan for the fall, but let’s remember two things.

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First, events are constantly changing. We’re all dealing with a virus that no doctor had encountered 12 months ago, and both the spread and the effects of the virus are novel. Volatile case numbers mean that some plans for schooling must be altered or scrapped altogether. Now is simply not the time for those discussions. The goal for everyone who works not only in education, but in state and local government at large, should be to get children back to school as safely as possible. Given the summer spike in Alabama’s COVID caseload, that goal is proving elusive.

Public education in Alabama is noted for its many different school districts – county and city, both large and small. Our state is varied in its approach and it’s reasonable that the state board did not attempt to mandate how each and every district conducts itself. Areas with a very low caseload are prepping for a return to class, while some districts with high rates are choosing to remain virtual.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey suggested as many as half of the state’s students could begin the year with virtual-only education. Some districts such as my own suburban district are offering both in-person and virtual instruction; parents make the choice that’s best for their family and commit to it for the duration of the fall semester. The degree of variation and experimentation is confusing at first, but there is some hope that these varied approaches will produce helpful innovations in the way we educate our state’s children.

There is just one problem. Families are still bound to the decisions made by their local district. My own district is offering both in-person and virtual instruction, but parents had just six days to make an important decision that will stand for the entire fall semester. My family made a decision that works for us, and we hope circumstances uphold our judgment. What about families that simply cannot work within the parameters provided by their local district? If a family cannot meet these expectations without compromising either the education of their children or the financial stability of their family – then what?

We are likely to find that creative parents and concerned community members come up with various means of supplementing their children’s education if their district is all virtual, or if the pandemic shuts down in-person instruction. Anecdotal evidence from other parts of the country already suggests that parents are going to develop something that resembles the subject-based co-ops already utilized by many homeschooled children. It’s not hard to imagine something similar happening in Alabama if school-based instruction begins to falter, even if through no fault of the school district.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many things about our world, one of which is that we cannot ask our public institutions to do everything, because those institutions have their own limitations.

The ultimate decisions about a child’s education must be made within the family, by parents and other caregivers. When the local school falters, even through no fault of its own, we cannot deny parents the ability to make the best decisions on behalf of their children. In the midst of this pandemic, that may look like many things; it may be a move towards other home-based resources besides that which are provided by public schools. It may mean a move towards voluntary pods or co-ops with other families, and yes, it could mean a move towards a private school that, due to its flexibility as a smaller institution, is able to continue to meet in person.

Alabamians generally value and appreciate the public schools that serve as meaningful institutions in their communities. I mean instead to protect the freedom of families to make their own decisions. The state can best do that by allowing some of their children’s education funding to follow them in the form of education savings accounts. ESAs allow some funding to be reserved for specified education expenses, which alleviates some of the financial burdens that come with choosing to educate outside the bounds of the traditional public systems. Parents must not be constrained by finances into a bad situation; the goal of state policy should instead be to liberate parents to make the choices they deem best.

The end result of those choices may look different, but we will find in time that parents begin to create new forms of civil society that strengthen their children, their communities, and their state.

Matthew Stokes, a widely published opinion writer and instructor in the core texts program at Samford University, is a Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit educational organization based in Birmingham; learn more at alabamapolicy.org.

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The two-day virtual summit is open to all Alabamians and will provide tangible takeaways and practical advice on doing business in the current climate.

Speakers include Governor Kay Ivey and the state’s leading subject matter experts on topics such as diversity in the workplace, employee resources, small business development and optimizing Alabama’s transportation and broadband infrastructure.

Register Now for Engage Alabama as we continue to make Alabama a sweet home for business.

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