"That's your opinion": Republican senator insists white nationalists are not racist

“My opinions of a white nationalist, if somebody wants to call them white nationalist, is to me an American”

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 11, 2023 9:45AM (EDT)

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican and a celebrated former college football coach, is drawing criticism from colleagues in Congress for refusing to denounce white nationalism. 

Speaking with CNN host Kaitlan Collins on Monday, Tuberville was asked to clarify remarks he made in May in which he appeared to suggest that white nationalists they should not be barred from serving in the military. The senator is currently holding up the appointments of more than 200 military officers because of his personal opposition to the Pentagon's policy allowing service members to obtain abortions. As of Monday, the U.S. Marine Corps does not have a confirmed commanding officer for the first time in more than a century. 

Tuberville defended himself to Collins by saying, "I'm a senator. I can hold any confirmation I want until we get some kind of confirmation of why you're doing this," apparently referring to the Pentagon's abortion policies.

Collins followed up by asking whether Tuberville agreed that "white nationalists should not be serving in the U.S. military."

"If people think that a white nationalist is a racist. I agree with that, I agree they shouldn't," Tuberville replied.

"A white nationalist is someone who believes that the white race is superior to other races," Collins said.

"Well, that's some people's opinion," Tuberville insisted. "My opinions of a white nationalist, if somebody wants to call them white nationalist, is to me an American," Tuberville said. "Now, if that white nationalist is a racist, I'm totally against anything they want to do, because I am 110% against racism. But I want somebody that's in our military, that's strong belief in this country, that's an American, that will fight alongside anybody, whether with a man or woman, Black or white, red, it doesn't make any difference. And so I'm totally against identity politics. I think it's ruining this country. And I think that Democrats ought to be ashamed for how they're doing this, because it's divided this country and it's making this country weaker every day."

Tuberville's comments have most definitely been noticed by his political opponents:

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