Tennessee state GOP lawmaker says getting rid of higher education would 'save America'

A Tennessee state GOP lawmaker has called for getting rid of the entire higher education system, asserting that such a move would “save America” and cut out "the liberal breeding ground."

State Sen. Kerry Roberts made the remarks while speaking on his conservative talk radio show last week. He addressed his problems with the higher education system while discussing a recent legislative hearing focused on abortion legislation.

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Roberts argued that an activist's public testimony in favor of abortion rights was a "product of higher education," adding that abolishing the system would "save America."

"If there's one thing that we can do to save America today, it's to get rid of our institutions of higher education right now and cut the liberal breeding ground off," he said, before questioning why public colleges were funded by tax dollars.

The comments gained attention on Monday after the website Tennessee Holler shared a shortened clip of Roberts' remarks on Twitter. The video had accumulated 27,000 views as of Tuesday afternoon. 

Roberts dismissed the backlash his comments engendered, saying in a Facebook post that his "listeners clearly understood the humor and hyperbole."

"Hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. Especially common on talk radio shows," he said in a separate statement shared on Twitter.

Roberts did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

Roberts approved a Tennessee budget earlier this year that included money for colleges and universities, the Associated Press noted. He is a 1983 graduate of Lipscomb University, according to his Tennessee Senate profile.  

-- Updated at 12:40 p.m.