GOP Senate candidate slams himself and Trump in botched interview

John James thinks it is "absolutely inappropriate" to make accusations about a U.S. president.

John James, Michigan Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, thinks it is very wrong to attack the president -- except when he does it.
John James, Michigan Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, thinks it is very wrong to attack the president -- except when he does it. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

A Michigan Republican Senate candidate went on Fox News Thursday morning to complain about what he heard in Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, and inadvertently condemned the behavior of both President Donald Trump and himself as “absolutely inappropriate.”

John James lost his 2018 Senate race to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) by 6.5 points. Undeterred, he is back and again seeking his party’s nomination, this time to take on Sen. Gary Peters (D) next November.

Asked about comments by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) suggesting that Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia has helped Al Qaeda, James called such criticism of a sitting president totally out of bounds.

I think that Tulsi Gabbard’s accusation that the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, the person who has done everything he can to keep us safe all around the world, is now colluding with Al Qaeda is absolutely inflammatory. Absolutely inappropriate. Absolutely wrong,” he said.

As a candidate in 2016, Trump in fact went well beyond suggesting a sitting president’s actions inadvertently helped a terrorist organization. Multiple times, he falsely claimed that President Barack Obama was the founder of ISIS — making clear that he meant it literally. Trump has also recently falsely accused a sitting congresswoman, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) of endorsing Al Qaeda.

James did not seem to have a problem with that.

Immediately after arguing that it was inflammatory, inappropriate, and wrong to accuse a U.S. commander-in-chief of helping Al Qaeda, James also accused Trump’s predecessor of having helped Al Qaeda.


Previous administrations actually have given money to regimes that have supported Al Qaeda, to the tune of $150 billion to a country like Iran, who say they want to see death to America and death to Israel,” he charged. “That is supporting the types of regimes that we cannot have and we need to have somebody on the floor of the U.S. Senate who understands what it takes to keep us safe. And it’s not enabling these regimes like Iran to continue to threaten the United States and the world and destabilize the Middle East.”

U.S. intelligence officials have consistently debunked claims that Iran has supported Al Qaeda.

Moments later, James offered another inadvertent self-own. While attacking Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for her criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) record on integration, he effectively undermined his own criticism of the Obama administration’s Iran deal.

Look, I bristle immediately when I hear people say what they would have done if they were in a situation that’s has long-passed,” he said. “That reeks to me of self-aggrandizement. And not truly knowing what’s going on.”