“I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a politician,” said Tommy Tuberville, smiling and shaking his head. “I’m just somebody who loves this state and country—and I’m trying to help.”
Tuberville, a former Auburn football coach who is now a first term United States Senator, visited with The Southeast Sun during a trip through the Wiregrass Friday, June 4. He talked about his goals and accomplishments during this first year serving the people of Alabama as a self described “common-sense conservative.”
A former college athlete, college football coach and sports broadcaster, Tuberville spent 40-years in higher education as a college football coach, including stints as an assistant coach and defensive-coordinator at the University of Miami and Texas A&M before being named the head coach at the University of Mississippi. In 1998, Tuberville was named Auburn University Head Coach.
“People did not know what to make about a football coach coming up to Washington, D.C.,” Tuberville said, smiling.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Tuberville replied when asked whether being an SEC football coach is easier or harder than working in the nation’s capitol. “First, people have got to know who you are. Then they have got to trust you,” he said. “It’s not different than recruiting football players. You’ve got to sell yourself.”
Calling running for election, “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Tuberville said, “I’m a competitor and I wasn’t going to let them beat me by not outworking them so I definitely outworked every one of them.
“When I was elected, it was like being hired as a football coach. You have to put together a team,” he said, noting that on his current team he has 25 in D.C. and 15 in in-state offices.
“Then you have to build a platform—a game plan—of what you want to do. So my main goal this first year is to recruit and bring on people who pretty much believe in what I believe in the Congress and Senate and try to get a handful of people from the Democrats to understand what I am trying to do for our people and our state.
“People know I am competitive. I’m not a ‘yes’ guy. I need to be somebody that’s going to be for everyone. I’m also going to do what I think is best for everybody.” Tuberville said. “Some people are not going to agree with me. Not everybody agreed with how I coached a lot of times. But you’ve got to do what’s best for your team and what makes them successful. It is the same thing in this profession.
“This country owes you one thing: an opportunity to go do whatever you want to do,” Tuberville said. “You’re not going to win at everything. It’s like football. You’re not going to win at every game but when you lose, you get back up and go again. Very few countries give you that opportunity.”
On May 18, Tuberville introduced the Prohibiting TSP Investment in China Act. “Last year at this time President (Donald) Trump found out that $700 billion that belonged to the Thrift Savings Plan was getting ready to be invested in China,” he said. “TSP is the government pension plan for military and government workers.
“Regardless of who the president is, we’re not taking the military and the government workers’ money and invest it in a foreign country like China,” he explained. “We don’t invest in people who are hostile to us.”
On Friday, June 4, President Joseph Biden issued an executive order barring Americans from investing in firms linked to the Chinese military or China’s surveillance activities. “This Executive Order is a step in the right direction, and I’m glad President Biden is building on the foundation President Trump laid for ending American investment in Chinese companies,” Tuberville said following the announcement. “Chinese companies routinely violate U.S. sanction laws and actively enable the Chinese Communist Party’s military expansion and persecution of religious minorities.
“But we need to do more. Congressional action is also needed and that’s why I call on my colleagues to support my bill, the Prohibiting TSP Investment in China Act. This legislation would ban the Thrift Savings Plan from investing the retirement savings of our military and civilian federal employees in China-based companies. Not a single U.S federal retirement dollar should be invested in companies facilitating China’s rise.”
About the possibility of a name change for military installations named for Confederate military officers, which includes the Home of Army Aviation named for Confederate Gen. Edmund W. Rucker, Tuberville said, “We’re going to fight that. You can’t destroy history, you can’t change it,” he said. “We need to learn from history. I believe in our history and how we got here, right or wrong. We build off of history and changing the things that we need to change but we don’t need to be destroying history. You have to learn from it.”
Tuberville said he was impressed with his visit to Maxwell Air Force Base and Dannelly Field in Montgomery June 3. “The military is one of the most important things that has built this country because it builds loyalty, team work, organization skills and all the leadership that this country needs,” he said.
“It’s a disaster,” is what Tuberville called the “For the People Act,” which would mandate a “one-size-fits-all election system on our country by federally mandating how states run their elections.
“The act adopts the worst practices from pandemic-era elections and forces every state to use them,” Tuberville said. “The bill would override Alabama’s election laws to make the following changes: prohibit states from requiring voters to show ID; make same-day voter registration mandatory and make universal mail-in ballot access mandatory.
“The main thing is they want to do away100 percent with is the voter ID requirement” Tuberville said. “If you get on an airplane, buy a gun or go to the bank, you’ve got to have an ID. One of the most important things we do in this country is an election. Why do we not need voter ID? That is what is amazing to me. I am 100 percent for voter picture ID. That way we can have fair and honest elections.
“What we can’t overcome is election laws like that where the federal government just takes over and tells the states how to run their elections,” he added. “States are supposed to run their own elections through their state legislature.
“I’ve been laying the groundwork for the future,” he said. “You can’t just come in like a bull in a china shop. You’ve got to sit and listen, so I’ve listened more than I have talked for this year.
“It’s a long game, we’re going to have setbacks, we’re going to fumble the ball. We’re going to have to punt some. Right now (the Democrats) have got the ball but sooner or later we’re going to get the ball back. We’re going to control Congress and we’re going to get the president in there.”