Tommy Tuberville retired from a college football career where he grew accustomed to recruiting teenagers to play for him, but now he is criss-crossing the state recruiting voters for his 2020 U.S. Senate campaign.
Tuberville, the former Auburn football coach, spent Friday making multiple stops in Tallapoosa County visiting retirees, law enforcement, city and county officials and anyone else who wanted to talk. He said the public appearances and handshaking is different on the campaign trail compared to the NCAA-controlled recruiting process in college football.
“(Campaigning) is like recruiting on steroids,” Tuberville said. “(Thursday) night we were in Mobile until 9 p.m. and now we’re here. The difference is you do this to win one game – an election, but it doesn’t stop there.”
Tuberville started campaigning Friday morning with breakfast patrons at Jack’s in Dadeville, hoping to recruit more for his team of voters leading him to the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. It’s the same seat Republican Jeff Sessions left to be the U.S. Attorney General and Democrat Doug Jones was elected in a special statewide election over Republican Roy Moore.
Tuberville supports President Donald Trump and clearing Washington D.C. of lifetime politicians while bringing back traditional values.
“The three things this country was built on were God, family and education and we have got to get back to them,” Tuberville said. “We have got to get back to some morals. We have absolutely lost them.
“You watch TV for about five minutes and you realize we are not going to have a country.
I am tired of career politicians. I want to help Donald Trump and he needs more help. If he had help, he would have done a lot more the last three years.”
Tuberville didn’t talk specifics but said he would support many of the things Trump does.
“I want to support the military more, our law enforcement, our teachers, small businesses and especially in this state our farmers,” Tuberville said. “Farmers are struggling. We need to keep the family farms alive.”
Voters in Tallapoosa County have taken a liking to the retired Auburn football coach with many approaching him to talk and get a photograph and autograph with him.
“I really like him,” Jacksons Gap resident Gary Smith said. “He wants to put family and God back in D.C. That is what is missing and tearing our nation apart.”
Voters agree with Tuberville’s idea shaking things up in Washington D.C.
“He won’t be one of the quiet ones up there,” StillWaters resident Buck Stevens said. “He will help clean things up.”
Football fans of all types like Tuberville, even former archenemies. Crimson Tide fan Lee Lloyd met Tuberville at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse with his grandson. The two got in a little friendly ribbing.
“Well, we beat ya six times in a row,” Tuberville told Lloyd jokingly after finding out he was an Alabama fan.
“I know,” Lloyd said. “I’m an Alabama fan but I’ll vote for you.”
The same was true for Alabama fans in Alexander City as they came up to take photographs with their former archenemy wearing crimson hats with a script “A” and T-shirts.
Willie Wright works in the kitchen at Russell Medical cafeteria, which was Tuberville’s lunch spot Friday. Wright, wearing an Alabama hat, cautiously approached Tuberville. Wright’s crimson heart quickly warmed as Tuberville put his arm around Wright and took a photograph with him.
Minutes later, Wright approached Tuberville again with the picture in hand to autograph.
“I’ll give credit where credit is due,” Wright said. “He just tricked us for six years. I’m not big into politics or politicians but I like him.”
Alexander City residents reminded Tuberville of the jobs lost when Russell Corp. closed down but Tuberville told would-be voters he wanted to bring jobs back to the U.S.
“Eight thousand (jobs lost), whew,” Tuberville gasped. “I remember they used to make the best (sweatpants) in the world. Everything is shipped to China. We have to get it back here.”
Dadeville resident Mickey Tarpley is not an Auburn fan, but he believes Tuberville will do well in Washington if elected.
“I’m a Tennessee fan but my wife did get her doctorate from Auburn,” Tarpley said. “There is no doubt he will make a difference.”
Like Trump, Tuberville said he doesn’t want a paycheck, as his coaching career has supported his family.
“God has blessed me,” Tuberville said. “I don’t need the job. I have done well, but (Nick) Saban and Gus (Malzahn) have done better. I’m doing this for public service. I want to help the state and country.”