Perdue: Story about nominee’s controversial comments part of media campaign against Trump
August 7, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended a nominee for agriculture undersecretary against a story published at the beginning of August.
When asked by The Hagstrom Report for his reaction to the CNN story, Perdue said, "I am not familiar with that," and then added that he finds it "amazing how much the media goes back" to find material.
The CNN story reported controversial statements Sam Clovis, a nominee to be agriculture undersecretary for research, education and economics, made on a his blog a few years ago.
But later on the call to reporters from Illinois during his "Back to Our Roots" RV Tour, Perdue went on to say stories like the CNN one are part of a media campaign against the Trump administration, and he defended Clovis for the position.
Clovis made controversial statements on race, President Barack Obama, socialism and southern culture in blog posts related to his Sioux City radio show. CNN published a story on the blog last week after recovering the deleted 2011 and 2012 posts online.
"That is what the opposition does. They dredge up these stories," Perdue said.
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Perdue said these stories are "an attempt by the opposition over the delaying and smearing of candidates."
Perdue maintained that he "faced the same thing" when he was a candidate for agriculture secretary — an apparent reference to stories questioning his attitude about federal nutrition programs and his company's financial relationships when he was governor of Georgia.
But when he went into one senator's office, Perdue said, the senator told him "Governor, you are not a crook."
Apparently referring to the CNN story, Perdue added it is the sort of thing (the Environmental Working Group) and others opposed to this administration will do."
Perdue said he fully supports Clovis's nomination.
"I have absolute confidence in him," Perdue said.
There was already some questions regarding Clovis's nomination after links from a 2014 Iowa Public Radio interview and a Politico story regarding a 2013 radio interview where Clovis questioned the constitutionality of crop insurance, which was cause for concern for Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Clovis, Perdue said, "will manage in fine fashion" and will use "sound science not science from an ideological perspective."
Asked later in the call by Chuck Abbott of the Food and Environmental Reporting Network why Trump had nominated a non-scientist for the position when the administration wants to stress sound science, Perdue responded that Clovis "is an academician" and that "a scientist is not necessarily a technical type of person … his interest is more in the economic aspects."
The job of undersecretary is management, Perdue said
"This person who is undersecretary of (research, education and economics) is not going to be doing basic or applied research," but will manage the division to make sure that American producers receive "the best science" through the extension service, he said.