Tiger on the trail: Tuberville visits Athens on campaign stop

Former Auburn football coach and United States Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville shakes hands with Dixie Williams Tuesday afternoon at Dub's Burgers in Athens. Tuberville, who has been canvassing the state campaigning, visited Dub's to meet with potential voters. Tuberville, a Republican, is running for the seat currently held by incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat.

Former Auburn football coach and United States Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville made a stop at Dub's Burgers in Athens Tuesday afternoon during his campaign trip around the state.

Tuberville spent about 30 minutes meeting with potential voters at Dub's Burgers on Jefferson Street. He said he has enjoyed canvassing the state meeting people and listening to their needs and desires.

“This is fun," Tuberville said. "I did this for a living for 40 years, recruiting, and this is no different. It's about people. Now I'm just asking them questions, what they expect out of their U.S. senator, and I do more listening than talking.”

Tuberville, a Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat. Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election in 2017 to fill the final two years of Jeff Sessions' term, who resigned after President Donald Trump appointed him U.S. Attorney General.

Tuberville is one of six Republican candidates who have declared their intention to run for the Senate seat. The other candidates are Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice; businessman Stanley Adair; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill; state Rep. Arnold Mooney; and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne.

Tuberville said he got involved in politics following his retirement from coaching because of a love for his country and state. He said he considered running for governor, but decided not to once Kay Ivey was promoted to the position following the resignation of Robert Bentley. He said he chose to run for senator to make sure a conservative Republican took back the seat Jones won in 2017.

“I'm a little bit worried about our country and the direction it's going, and you can't do anything about it unless you get involved,” he said. “I don't need the money and I don't need a job, but I want this job. I want to help President Trump in any way I can. I love this country and this state, and we've got to make sure it keeps going forward and not backward.”

Tuberville has never held political office, but he enjoys wide name recognition having spent 10 years as Auburn's head football coach from 1999-2008. He led the Tigers to an undefeated season and SEC championship in 2004 and defeated Alabama a record six consecutive times in the Iron Bowl.

After leaving Auburn, Tuberville was head coach at Texas Tech from 2010-2012 and at Cincinnati from 2013-2016.

Tuberville is campaigning on a platform of protecting the Second Amendment and the unborn. He said he is a supporter of Alabama's recent law banning abortion in nearly all cases. He also is a strong supporter of President Trump, and said he will help Trump get the proposed wall between the United States and Mexico built if he is elected to the Senate.

Tuberville said he doesn't believe his lack of political experience is a hinderance. In fact, he said it will help him in this election.

“People love outsiders,” he said. “Just look at Donald Trump and how successful he's been. People are tired of career politicians. I've actually had a job and been out in public. I've seen the rich, poor, middle class, the drugs, the mental health problems. I've seen all of it. I understand where people are coming from. There's not a better qualified person to be a representative and a public servant than a coach or school teacher, man or woman.”