This article continues an ongoing series of articles where BamaPolitics.com will ask questions of the candidates running for federal office in 2020. These articles are designed to give our readers an introduction to each candidate and give you a better understanding of why they are running. We also wanted to ask questions that are not a part of their regular stump speech or talking points. Let us know what you think and let us know if there are questions you have you would like to see answered by reaching out on our BamaPolitics social media or my personal Twitter account @dpreston2020.
Tommy Tuberville was born and raised in Camden, Arkansas. After he graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a degree in Physical Education, Tuberville started his coaching career in the high school ranks. After being a high school head football coach, he moved on to work his way up through the assistant coaching ranks at Arkansas State, Miami, and Texas A&M. After winning three national championships as an assistant at Miami and serving under legendary Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, he started his collegiate head football coaching career at Ole Miss. After taking the Head Football Coach position at Auburn University in 1999, he led the Tigers to an undefeated season and an SEC championship in 2004 before leading them on to six straight wins over the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. This Senate run is Tuberville’s first run for political office, and he is running in the Republican primary to try and unseat Doug Jones. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Tuberville and ask him five questions. These are his answers.
What experiences as a collegiate head football coach do you have that qualifies you to be a United States Senator?
Well, there’s a lot of them. There’s really a lot of carryover because you deal with people number one. I dealt with people for forty years. Rich, middle class, poor, I dealt with them. Mental health issues, drug issues, traveled in every state… but really, I’ve been in the schools. You really learn a lot about our educational system when you go into the buildings and visit with counselors, teachers, and administrators. Then the other part is leadership. I’ve studied the Congress, House, and the Senate and you have to be a leader but also people have to trust you. You’ve got to sell yourself. No different than in college recruiting. You have to sell yourself first. They have to trust you. They have to believe in you, that whatever you say is the word. You have to bring people together. That’s huge. Especially in this day and time. You have to be able to work with people on both sides. You have to be able to communicate. I think communication skills are things of the past because of telephones and internet. Nobody talks anymore. Everything’s through written message or texting or email. I think direct communication, being able to carry on a conversation with people is so, so important if you’re a Senator.
What is the one issue or piece of legislation that is going to be the top priority for you that you will either introduce, sponsor, or co-sponsor to help solve that issue?
Well the biggest thing that we have right now, and it’s created so many problems in this country, is our immigration policy. It’s draining our funds. The American taxpayer in this country is sending trillions of dollars to Washington and a lot of it is going to pay for people over here that shouldn’t be here. So I’m with President Trump 100%. I’ve been to the border a dozen times. I worked in Texas. I’ve got friends of mine that worked down there. We’ve got a mess. You can’t have a country unless you know who’s in your country. We sat around and watched years and years of people coming here and not protecting our borders. Now we need people to come. We need true Americans. But we’ve probably got 20 to 30 million people in this country who, number one, they live in the shadows. We don’t know who they are. We don’t know where they’re from. They don’t pay taxes, but somehow some way they get a check. They get healthcare. There are so many things in this country we need to take up first. Our vets, our elderly, our mental health, our drug addiction. There are so many things we could be spending that money on to solve problems, but we’re trying to take care of those people. I’m not against immigrants. We’re all immigrants. We need them to come in here, but we need to know who’s here. We need to put the wall up, redo our immigration policy, and get back to taking care of the people in this country who pay the taxes.
As the cost of college tuition continues to go up, the choice for many families and many high school graduates is either forgo a 4-year college degree or take on huge amounts of student loan debt. What ideas or solutions can you bring to the national discussion about student loan debt to help make it more manageable and reduce the overall burden on young people starting out in life?
Well, I’ve worked in education all my life. I’ve seen the rapid growth of college tuition all over the country. It’s out of control. I’ve got one in school right now at Auburn, and I don’t know how people pay for it. It’s absolutely amazing, the cost of education. Especially higher education. That needs to be addressed. I would say that just looking at it probably 50% of the kids that go to college need to go somewhere else to learn a skill. It’s become a social thing to go to college. There’s a lot of things to learn from a college experience, but our colleges have outpriced our families. To get into $100k, $200k debt by going to college and then getting out and not being able to pay that debt off because you can’t get a job that pays enough through the degree that you got, it just gets people in the hole. I’d like to see people rethink going to college. Again, there’s a lot of degrees we need people to go to get an education in. A college education. Medicine, lawyers, engineers, architects. But there’s some that need to go into different situations to be able to get a job, to learn to use their hands. Whether it’s technology or to use their brain to be able to go out and get a job. Instead of going to a four-year school and then have to go out and train to get a job in some other field that they got a degree in that they can’t get a job in. It’s a tough situation right now when tuitions are going out of sight. Our country’s carrying a $1.5 trillion debt around with kids that have gone to school, but they get out and they can’t pay that debt back because they can’t make enough money to live on and also pay the debt down. We’ve dug ourselves a hole and it’s just one of many things that our government has gotten into that they should never have gotten into loaning people money to go to college. I mean it should have been from banks, it should have been from the universities. Make the universities be responsible for collecting that money, not the American taxpayer. It’s just another situation in this country where we put the burden on the American taxpayer and not the people who are truly responsible for it.
You had said that you have spent the last year traveling around the state listening to the concerns of the citizens. What specific issues have the voters of the state told you they want you to work on and what are the solutions they would like to see?
Well, there’s a lot of things. They want more jobs. They want better jobs. They want better schools. Obviously, want better roads. There’s a lot of those things, but the number one thing that I hear is healthcare. In this state, the majority of the state is rural areas. And we’re losing our rural hospitals because they just can’t afford to stay open because of Obamacare’s run out the insurance companies. We don’t have enough competition with insurance companies to be able to pay the doctors and the light bill and all the bills that these rural hospitals have. Plus you need good internet in the rural areas to run these hospitals. We don’t have good internet in rural areas. We’re starting to get that, but it’s just one thing after another with our hospitals in rural areas that they can’t keep their doors open because they can’t pay their bills. But it’s not all rural. It’s also in urban areas, too. They’re getting overwhelmed because of the people… they don’t have enough beds, don’t have enough doctors, don’t have enough nurses. Not enough people trained in the medical field because the money’s not there that it used to be, because insurance companies are not paying near as much to the doctors and the drug prices are out of sight. If there’s anything that we really need to address not just for Alabama but for all the states across the country, we’ve got to get a handle on healthcare and drug prices. This is a federal issue, it’s not a state issue. It’s got to be handled in Washington, DC. For some reason everything in Washington, DC runs at a snail’s pace, but we’ve got to get control of healthcare because it’s way overpriced, it’s way too costly. A lot of people need better and better healthcare every day, every week, every month, and every year.
What lessons and experiences do you have working with young people that he can apply to make you a better Senator for the state of Alabama?
I think that this is a good experience point for me. I’ve dealt with all these millennials for the last 15, 20 years that were going through college. They’ve grown up different than most of us. They’ve grown up with technology, they’ve grown up with a different world around them. This millennial group is a great group of young people coming up. This is going to be their country in just a few years. I think in a lot of areas they get a bad rap. They don’t communicate, they don’t have the work ethic… They really do. It’s just different. You see a lot of them. For unfortunate reasons, I think a lot of them have become very close to thinking that socialism is the thing that we need in this country because they’ve been brainwashed in a lot of our schools. We can blame that on our education. There’s a lot of good kids out there that really still believe in this country. They do have work ethic. They want to be the leaders of this country. We’ve just got to find those that can bring the other ones along to continue to make this country great. We’re in a tough situation right now because there’s a huge division between our millennials of what direction they want to take this country. Hopefully, they wake up in time to go along with the ones who really believe in capitalism and not socialism.