President Donald Trump’s unfiltered friend and informal adviser Roger Stone called on him Saturday to fire “insubordinate hillbilly” Attorney General Jeff Sessions and send the former Republican senator “back to Alabama.”
The “hillbilly” reference could exacerbate potential political problems for Trump in the South. Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump In The White House,” claims the president has mocked Sessions’ southern accent, called him a “dumb southerner,” and derided him as “mentally retarded.”
The White House has denied Woodward’s claims.
Still, evidence is mounting that Southerners are a target of Trump’s barbs. An editor for the New York Post’s Page Six told The New York Times last week that several years ago Trump referred to the Georgia family of his ex-wife Marla Maples as “dumb southerners.”
Trump even spoke in a fake southern accent to mock Maples’ mother, editor Jeane MacIntosh said. And, she said, Trump compared Maples’ relatives to the family of rubes featured in the 1960s TV sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Without expressly criticizing Trump, a few southern Republican senators rose to the defense of their region in the wake of the Woodward revelations.
“We’re a pretty smart bunch. ... I’m not gonna get into name calling because I don’t think you should be allowed to call names — including the president,” Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia told The Washington Post.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama took note of the political importance of the South in his comments to the Post.
“I guess the president... says what he thinks,” Shelby said, adding that he would “hope” the president has “a lot of respect for the South.”
“Without the South, he wouldn’t be the president of the United States,” Shelby said.
Trump carried every southern state except Virginia in winning the White House in 2016.