There are two things to know about Tommy Tuberville, the most likely next U.S. senator from the neighboring state of Alabama.
“Tubby,” as he’s sometimes called, knows how to win, and he’ll say anything if he thinks it will advance that objective.
No wonder he feels so comfortable trying to ride the coattails of Donald Trump into the U.S. Senate. The two have a lot in common when it comes to being masters at manipulating people’s emotions.
Tuberville was at it on election night this week, after he handily defeated Jeff Sessions in the Republican runoff. Tuberville, the former successful football coach at the University of Auburn, told his audience that Doug Jones, the Democratic incumbent he is challenging, is a threat to Alabama because of his “New York values.”
That’s a rich thing for a Trump devotee to say, given the president is a New York native who has made that city the base of his business empire.
Only in the South can a native son, such as Jones, be cast as an outsider, while an honest-to-goodness Yankee is feted as “one of us” because the former won’t pander to the prejudices that have held this region back while the latter has no reservations about doing so.
Tuberville clearly benefited in the GOP race from Trump’s endorsement. But as Sessions learned, such alliances don’t always work out so well. After giving early credibility to Trump’s presidential campaign by becoming the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse him, Sessions was rewarded with being appointed attorney general. It was a poor career move. When Sessions showed he was more loyal to the law than to the president, he was belittled and badgered by Trump into resigning. Then when Sessions tried to reclaim his Senate seat, the president did his best to torpedo him.
Tuberville may be able to stay on Trump’s good side longer, since the former football coach has less of a moral compass than Sessions. People in Mississippi should remember well the episode that exposed Tuberville’s true character.
When rumors surfaced that Auburn was wooing him away from Ole Miss, Tuberville infamously lied that the only way he’d be leaving Oxford is “in a pine box.” Two days later he was gone, not in a casket but on a plane, headed to a bigger payday.
In an earlier time, that whopper may have haunted Tuberville. In the Trump era, such outrageous lies are considered standard operating procedure.