Skip to content
Tuberville secures support from Republican presidential candidates


In military circles, Senator Tommy Tuberville does not seem to be a particularly popular person. After all, it was just this week that the Secretary of the Navy said on national television that the Alabama Republican was “aiding and abetting communists and other autocratic regimes around the world.”

And while this is one of the most aggressive rhetorical responses to the right-wing senator’s block on military promotions, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro isn’t the only irate member of the military community. As regular readers know, Tuberville’s efforts have also been condemned by every surviving former defense secretary. And retired military leaders. And veterans. And the Democrats in Congress. And the White House. And military spouses. And his own fellow Republicans. And a majority of people living in Alabama. And a surprising number of military leaders currently in service.

But Alabaman may take some comfort in the fact that some Republican presidential candidates are on his side, even as he undermines his own country’s armed forces.

In July, for example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended the sweeping blockade of Tuberville, accusing the military of “funding abortion tourism.” The governor’s rhetoric was wildly misleading — Pentagon policy provides for reimbursement of troop travel, but public funds aren’t used to pay for abortions — even though DeSantis didn’t seem to care.

Yesterday, former Vice President Mike Pence also threw his support behind the radical senator. In a speech delivered in New Hampshire, the Indiana Republican said:

“What I would say, if I was working in Washington, DC, is I would look at the Pentagon from across the Potomac and say, ‘This could all be over tomorrow if you just stop undermining pro- state life. Look, we don’t need the Pentagon, under the Biden administration, scrambling to provide support for people crossing state lines to get abortions.

Pence added, apparently referring to the Tuberville policy: “This could all be over tomorrow if the Pentagon backs off from promoting a liberal social agenda. »

It would be a stretch to suggest that all Republican presidential candidates agree with the Alabama senator’s blockade. Former ambassador Nikki Haley, for example, said last month that while she agreed with Tuberville’s political goals, she disagreed with the impact of his tactics on the military.

For his part, Donald Trump was also asked what he thought of the Tuberville blockade, and the former president replied: “He is doing his job right now, and he has the courage to at least express his convictions. . People agree and disagree.

Trump is not good at dodging questions, but he apparently didn’t want to get too close to his ally senator on this point.

But it was Pence’s argument that stuck with me. To hear the former vice president, Tuberville would release his hostages if the Pentagon agreed to pay the ransom. For Pence, the proposal is simple: just remove benefits for active-duty troops, and the Alabama Republican would then stop trying to undermine his own country’s military.

However, this poses some significant problems.

The first is that this is not how policy-making is supposed to work in mature, advanced democracies. Rewarding Tuberville for undermining the armed forces would only encourage others to do the same. The solution is not for the military, as Pence put it, to “stand down”; the solution is for the senior Alabama senator to end his dangerous temper tantrum.

The second problem is that Pence could very well be wrong about Tuberville’s plans. According to the former vice president, as soon as the Pentagon ends the travel reimbursement policy, the senator will stop harming the armed forces. But Tuberville’s position has evolved in recent months, and just two weeks ago the Alabamaan wasn’t just targeting travel reimbursement policy — he was also targeting US military leaders themselves.

Ideally, national GOP voices would use their platforms to encourage the senator to be more accountable. However, rhetoric like that of Pence and DeSantis will only prolong the problem.