Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to respond after Senator Tommy Tuberville fell for a “gotcha question” about white nationalists.
Tuberville (R-AL) created an uproar on Tuesday when he appeared to refuse to denounce white nationalists in a CNN interview, forcing Republican leadership to address it and giving Democrats an easy talking point.
CNN host Kaitlan Collins asked Tuberville about comments he made to an NPR station in Alabama earlier this year.
When asked whether white nationalists should be able to serve in the military, he previously responded, “Well, they call them that. I call them Americans.”
Collins read the definition of a white nationalist to Tuberville, saying they are “someone who believes that the white race is superior to other races.”
“Well, that’s some people’s opinion,” Tuberville responded.
“My opinion of a white nationalist, if someone wants to call them a white nationalist, to me, is an American,” he said. “It’s an American. Now, if that white nationalist is a racist, I’m totally against anything that they want to do because I am 110 percent against racism.”
He said “white nationalist” is “just a cover word for the Democrats now where they can use it to try to make people mad across the country” and reinforced his opinion that exposed white nationalists should be allowed to remain in the military.
Republicans Scramble to Disavow as Democrats Pounce
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was quick to respond.
“The definition of white nationalism is not a matter of opinion,” Schumer declared. “For the Senator from Alabama to obscure the racist nature of white nationalism is indeed very, very dangerous.”
McConnell issued a harsh denunciation of white supremacy during his weekly leadership conference, referring to Tuberville’s comments.
“White supremacy is simply unacceptable in the military and in our whole country,” McConnell told reporters.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said “ethnic nationalism is un-American and I think it would be problematic in the military.”