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Republicans are running for cover in Alabama after the commission that oversees the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park rejected a request to host a rally for former President Donald Trump.
“After the request was made, then there was contact with the Republican Party, they contacted us and then it became apparent that it was going to be a partisan political event, rather than just a patriotic event planned for that evening,” park commission chairman Bill Tunnell told NBC-15 News in Alabama.
Conservative Tea Party activist Pete Riehm noted it was more Trump than politics that blocked the event, according to the report.
“I’ll be honest, I feel some people just didn’t want it, not just it, but President Trump,” Riehm, familiar with inside discussions of the event, told the television station. “If people can’t assemble in public places, where can we assemble?”
A spokesperson for Gov. Kay Ivey’s office denied that she played any role in stopping the Trump rally.
“(Ivey) is fully supportive of President Trump and worked closely with him as governor and appreciated his support of our state,” spokesperson Gina Maiola told AL.com. “The Battleship Commissioners approached our office out of concern of a statute that says you cannot use state property for political purposes. The governor and her team expressed that the law would not bar this event from happening and encouraged them to seek an opinion from the Attorney General.”
The newspaper reported that park commissioners ruled the event could be viewed as “partisan” and opted to scuttle the former president’s appearance during the holiday weekend.
“I don’t understand why some are making a big issue out of the Battleship’s position,” said Tim Russell, a USS Alabama Battleship commissioner. “Those Naval ships are not ours. It belongs technically to the U.S. Navy. You cannot go to a Navy base and hold an active rally using governmental property. To me, those aircraft (featured on the property) are on loan from the Department of Defense. I seem to be more concerned about that than some of the non-veterans who don’t understand that issue.”