Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville found himself in a bind after trying to walk back some recent comments he made defending white nationalists.
The senator from Alabama was confronted over his comments that seemed to back white nationalists by members of the press Thursday (May 11) at the U.S. Capitol. After stating that “you can’t have racists” on any team, Tuberville went on to say that Democrats were the issue due to their painting all Trump supporters as white nationalists.
“The Democrats characterize all MAGA Republicans in the military as white nationalists, wrong. Wrong. OK?” Tuberville said. “We can’t get politics in the military. This has nothing to do with extremists.” He then asked the press to define the term, and one reporter responded with the definition as “someone who propagates Nazism.” Tuberville would go on to say, “Well I don’t look at it like that,” he said, adding, “I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican. That’s what we’re called all the time, a MAGA person.”
The politician and former college football coach had blasted President Joe Biden and his administration for excluding white nationalists from the U.S. military in an interview with WBHM, a National Public Radio station based in Birmingham, earlier in the week. Host Richard Banks asked, “Do you believe they should allow white nationalists in the military?” Tuberville responded, “Well, they call them that. I call them Americans.”
He’d go on to add: “We are losing in the military so fast. Our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why, because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda, as Joe Biden’s agenda.”
His office put out a statement on Wednesday to try to clarify what he meant. “Sen. Tuberville’s quote that is cited shows that he was being skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military,” the statement read. “He believes the men and women in uniform are patriots. (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin seems to think otherwise, subjecting them to extremism training as his very first act in office. That cost us four million man-hours.”
Tuberville is currently under fire over his blocking of numerous military promotions requiring Senate committee confirmations. Observers note that it’s due to his objection to the Biden Administration’s policies requiring that service members be reimbursed for abortion-related expenditures.