Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s comments about the Trump administration’s handling of veterans’ issues last August 2019 at the Shoals Republican Club have been a focal point of the contest for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat up in November.
“I’m pissed off at Donald Trump that our vets can’t get health care,” Tuberville said, speaking to the group at the time. “And if I ever get to see him, I’m going to tell him that. You said you were going to fix it, and it ain’t fixed. And that’s who we ought to be taking care of — these young men and women.”
During an appearance on Birmingham talk radio’s 99.5 on Thursday, co-hosts Andrea Lindenberg and Matt Murphy asked Tuberville to address those remarks, which have been used by opponents in political advertising against his candidacy.
Tuberville said he was upset not with just President Donald Trump but everyone, including himself. As a show of his concern, he pledged to donate his U.S. Senate salary to veterans’ causes.
“Everybody is responsible — the president, me, you, out Congress because they have done something nobody else will do, which is protect this country,” he said. “My salary — you know what I’m doing? I’m going to come on your show once every few months, and I’m going to give my salary, a check, to a veteran or a wife that has lost her husband, or their kids to go to school. I’m not taking one dime, and I’m giving it to the veterans. I stand and put up when I talk. I don’t just talk about it. I’m going to do it. So, yes — I’m mad at everybody.”
When asked if he had any regrets about his statement, he reiterated his support of the president but indicated those remarks were an indication of his willingness to “tell it like it is.”
“Listen, I’m 100% behind Donald Trump,” he said. “He’s the best thing to happen to this country since I’ve been on this earth in terms of getting things done. But he knows. He understands. And he is doing as much as he can. It’s kind of like me getting chewed out for losing a football game when our offensive line didn’t block anybody. He’s got people working for him. But who is going to get the blame? The president is going to get the blame. The head coach is going to get the blame. I’m going to tell it like it is, and if folks don’t like the way I tell it — don’t vote for me because I’m going to tell it. I’m not a politician. I’m not one of these career politicians who is just going to go up there and take a paycheck and hide when there’s a tough vote, or there is something tough that needs to be said about somebody. And I’m going to call it out. But I’m telling you right now: Our veterans need help. They need help now. Not next week, not next year.”
Tuberville also used the discussion about his comments as an opportunity to criticize his opponents former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who he called on to “have some manhood about you.”
“Listen, I’m not going to be a ‘yes man,'” he said. “The people in Alabama deserve somebody who is going to speak for them. And if I need to say something to the president or the leader of the Senate, or secretary of state, I’m going to speak my voice. I’m not going to go up there as a dang puppet. These guys, as you said — Sessions got fired. He has got no business running for this job because he is not going to be respected when he goes back. Bradley Byrne — he turned on the president before he was even elected. And they’re getting on the knees, crawling now to tell people they’re supporting President Trump. My gosh, have some manhood about you. Speak your piece. What did you do it for? Speak your piece.”
“Jeff Sessions did more to protect Hillary Clinton than he did Donald Trump,” Tuberville added. “You think about that — and it really tees me off.”