Tommy Tuberville was a unique kind of U.S. Senate candidate. The Alabama Republican and former college football coach settled on a specific kind of strategy Americans generally don’t see among those seeking statewide office: say very little, do very little, and expect to win by maintaining a relatively low public profile.
During the GOP primaries, for example, Tuberville refused to debate former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. During the general election, he also refused to debate Sen. Doug Jones (D). After struggling to discuss what the Voting Rights Act is, the retired coach seemed to retreat even further from microphones.
In mid-October, the Alabama Media Group’s Kyle Whitmire noted, “With three weeks left before the election, Tuberville’s campaign strategy is to say as little as possible. No debates. No interviews. No nothing. Tuberville is in hiding.” The columnist added, “[I]f a campaign won’t let its candidate speak openly because he can’t do so without saying dumb things that hurt his chances of winning the election, what the heck is going to happen when he’s in the United States Senate?”
None of this seemed to matter too much to voters in Alabama — Tuberville won in a landslide — which freed the senator-elect to start speaking up a little more as he gets ready to start his career as a federal lawmaker. Consider his comments to the Alabama Daily News’ Todd Stacy yesterday:
“I tell people, my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism. Today, you look at this election, we have half this country that made some kind of movement, now they might not believe in it 100 percent, but they made some kind of movement toward socialism. So we’re fighting it right here on our own soil.”
It’s true that Tuberville’s father fought in France during World War II, but if the senator-elect thinks the war was about “freeing Europe of socialism,” he probably ought to read a book or two about the conflict.
Asked about his willingness to work with the upcoming Biden White House, Tuberville added:
“I think it still is still up in the air who’s going to be the president…. So, you know, the media has got to stand down on all of this because they’re creating so much havoc. I remember in 2000 Al Gore was president, United States, president elect, for 30 days – 30 days – and after 30 days, it got to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court says, no, George Bush is going to be the president. That’s the problem we’ll get into when we do a lot of guessing, and that’s all it is right now.”
None of this makes any sense. The “media” isn’t creating havoc by telling the public who won the election; no one is “guessing” about the vote totals’ Al Gore was never identified as president-elect for 30 days; and the Supreme Court stopped a vote-count in Florida in 2000, but it didn’t label George W. Bush the president.
As for his expectations for next year, the senator-elect added, “You know, our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three of branches of government. It wasn’t set up that way, our three branches, the House, the Senate and executive.”
The three branches of government are the legislative, the judiciary, and the executive.
This does shed some light on why Tuberville avoided debates and interviews ahead of his successful election victory.