WASHINGTON ― For 20 years, Alabama was represented in the Senate by an outspoken immigration hardliner who made racially charged statements.
Now that man is the attorney general of the United States, and a like-minded Republican, who has accused Democrats of waging a “war on whites,” is vying for his seat.
History has a way of repeating itself.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R) announced Monday that he will run in a special election for the Senate seat currently filled by Sen. Luther Strange (R). Strange was appointed by Alabama’s governor after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) was confirmed to lead the Department of Justice.
Brooks, who was first elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave, is an anti-political correctness, pro-deportation conservative in the mold of Sessions and President Donald Trump.
His appeal will be tested on Aug. 15, when Alabama will hold its primary elections, and potentially in a GOP primary runoff on Sept. 26. Strange, who has remained relatively quiet during his time in the Senate, is also running with the support of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The main Democratic challenger for the seat thus far is former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who in 2002 successfully prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan for a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
In a deeply red state that overwhelming supported Trump, Democrats aren’t expected to come anywhere close to flipping the seat in the Dec. 12 general election. Like Trump’s remarks, however, Brooks’ incendiary comments on race, immigration and voter fraud are sure to enrage those on the left and possibly put the GOP’s acceptance of right fringe elements under the microscope.
Here are some of Brooks’ most outrageous statements.
On the “War on Whites”
One of Brooks’ repeated refrains over the years has been that Democrats are waging a “war on whites” and dividing people based on race ― in effect, that by mentioning racism, they are the real racists.
“This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else,” he said in August 2014.
Brooks hasn’t dropped that claim in the years since. Earlier this year, he brought up the “war on whites” to defend Sessions when the senator was being considered for attorney general.
“It’s really about political power and racial division and what I’ve referred to on occasion as the ‘war on whites.’ They are trying to motivate the African-American vote to vote-bloc for Democrats by using every ‘Republican is a racist’ tool that they can envision,” Brooks said on WBHP 800 Alabama radio. “Even if they have to lie about it.”
On the Racial Divisiveness of Barack Obama
Along the same vein, Brooks has pronounced the nation’s first black president the most “racially divisive” since the Civil War. He had admitted that pro-slavery presidents were worse in that regard.
“He’s clearly the most racially divisive president we’ve had since I’ve been alive,” Brooks said in January 2016. “But, again, we did have presidents in the first 80 to 100 years of our country that supported slavery, and you cannot say that Barack Obama was worse than them.”
On Americans With Pre-existing Conditions
Earlier this month, Brooks tried to promote the GOP proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but ended up creating even more fodder for angry constituents. Brooks said the fact that those with pre-existing conditions would have to pay higher premiums under the Republican plan wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It would just mean that healthy people who “have done the things to keep their bodies healthy … who have done things the right way” would have lower premiums, the congressman said.
On Doing “Anything Short of Shooting” Undocumented Immigrants
Brooks supports ramping up deportations and driving out undocumented immigrants in almost any way possible ― seriously, almost any way.
“As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them,” he said of undocumented immigrants in 2011. “Anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens.”
Along with blaming undocumented immigrants for committing crimes and costing taxpayers money, he said in 2015 that they might be the cause of a measles outbreak.
On Throwing Obama in Jail
Brooks suggested in 2014 that then-President Obama could be impeached or even imprisoned for his soon-to-be-announced executive actions on immigration.
“At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America,” Brooks said. “That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”
On Syrian Refugees’ “Paid Vacation”
Brooks, like Trump, opposes welcoming any of the millions of Syrian refugees driven from their homes by war. He was dismissive of their struggles in a 2015 interview, in which he criticized the United States’ already limited support for newly resettled refugees.
“I’m one of these folks that think we need to stop paying these folks to come here. And we’re paying them about $15,000 a year in free health care, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free transportation,” Brooks said. “That answers very quickly why so many of them want to come to the United States of America. We’re paying them to come here. It’s a paid vacation!”
On Muslims Trying to “Kill Every Homosexual”
Last year, Brooks accused Democrats of hypocrisy in reaching out to both the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, saying the former wanted to murder the latter.
“On the one hand, they’re trying to appeal to the gay community, but on the other hand, they’re trying to also appeal to the Muslim community ― which, if it had its way, would kill every homosexual in the United States of America,” Brooks said.
On Immigration Changing the Voter Pool
When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was running for speaker of the House in 2015, Brooks wanted Ryan to promise to pursue greater restrictions on immigration in exchange for his support. He said immigration would change the electorate ― as in, make it less white.
“Immigration is far and away the most important problem facing America because it changes the voter pool, thereby controlling the outcome of every single public policy challenge America faces,” Brooks told Talking Points Memo.
On Dishonorable Trump’s “Gutter-Mouth” Tendencies
Brooks initially did not support Trump for president, in part because of the businessman’s repeated infidelity, he said in February 2016. He described the future president as a flip-flopper who lacked honor.
“It’s not necessarily the sexual act itself; it’s the honor,” Brooks said of Trump’s “serial adultery.” “I want someone in the White House who is honorable. I believe honesty, integrity and honor are important attributes for president of the United States.”
Brooks also said Trump had “gutter-mouth tendencies” that he wouldn’t want children to hear from the White House.
The congressman eventually voiced support for Trump, although not enthusiastically. A month before the election, he said he would vote for the Republican nominee and that Trump was better than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The story has been updated with information on the main Democratic challenger for the Senate seat, Doug Jones.