Candidate Tommy Tuberville

U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville spent part of 2 days in Marshall County this week. He's running a "grass roots" campaign and plans to visit each of Alabama's 67 counties. He's shown in the office of Michael St. John at Fun 92.7 Radio in Arab.

Former Auburn football coach and current Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville spent part of 2 days in Marshall County campaigning this week. 

He says the nation is "off the tracks" and more political "outsiders" like himself are needed in Washington to fix it. 

"We're spending money like we're rich but we're broke," he said. 

If elected, he said, he will not take a paycheck, but will instead donate the money. 

"The Good Lord has blessed me," he said. "I did pretty well in my last few years coaching and I can live comfortably without taking the salary."

He has an ultra conservative agenda the embraces border security, gun rights, improving education, doing more for veterans, improving mental health care, restricting abortions and protecting individual liberties. 

Tuberville, 64, had stops as either an assistant or head coach at Miami, Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He retired 2 years ago and spent a year as an ESPN college football analyst. 

He said his wife Suzanne encouraged him to run. 

"Six weeks ago, it was just me and this cell phone," he said. "You need 15 to 20 full-time people to run a Senate campaign. We're not there yet, but I've got 10 to 12 now."

He was traveling alone as he left Marshall County Wednesday headed for Huntsville. He's on a furious pace to visit as many people and places as possible in his campaign. The pace doesn't concern him at all.

"This is what I do," he said, adding that it's not unlike recruiting when he was a coach. 

"People say 'You were a coach. How does that qualify you to run for Senate?'" Tuberville said. "I've dealt with $100 million budgets and 150 employees, not to mention 120 people who were 18 and 19 years old and make up the backbone of our country. I've been in the homes of rich, poor and middle class families. I've talked to people who are prospering and those who are struggling. I've seen the drug problem, not so much with my players, but maybe with some of the relatives back home. I haven't just been sitting behind a desk all these years."

He feels very strongly that more needs to be done in mental health. 

"You know what we do with a lot of people who are mentally ill?" he asked. "We put them in jail. It's not just a problem in Alabama. It's a problem everywhere in this country."

His strong feeling that more needs to be done for veterans is due to his father, Charles Tuberville. The senior Tuberville "drove a tank across Europe" during World War II and got 5 Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. He was at the Battle of the Bulge among other places. 

"He didn't talk a lot about the war, but he was shot in the back," Tuberville said. "I asked him about that and how it happened. He said, 'Yeah, I was running as hard as I could. My tank was on fire.'"

Tuberville's 2 days in Marshall and the surrounding counties shows the relentless pace he's setting for the campaign. He lives in Auburn.

"Let me tell you about the last 2 days," he said. "I went to Orange Beach and spoke to a group down there. I drove most of the night and got a little sleep in Birmingham. I came up to Oneonta and spoke to some ALFA folks. Then I went to Snead and spoke. From there I went to Huntsville and spoke to a Republican ladies group."

His next stop Tuesday night was speaking to the Republican Club of Marshall County at Wintzell's. The following morning, he spoke to Dan Smalley's breakfast group on Brindlee Mountain. 

"I got a real education there," he said. 

He then did a radio interview with Michael St. John of Fun 92.7 Radio, followed by this newspaper interview before heading to the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center. 

It's a crowded field for the GOP nomination for Senator. Other candidates include former Judge Roy Moore, Rep. Bradley Byrne, Secretary of State John Merrill and businessman Stanley Adair. It's said more candidates could jump in. 

Tuberville said he's led all the polls so far. 

"But I know that's going to tighten up and it will get tougher," he said. 

He's not too concerned about any dirty laundry that could come out on him. 

"Someone might bring up a bad business deal I made or how I might have grabbed a player on the sideline," he said. "That's nothing new. Everything on me has been out there for 40 years."

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