Tennessee lawmaker Kerry Roberts says abolishing higher education would 'save America'

A Tennessee lawmaker said last week that he supports getting rid of higher education in the U.S., suggesting it would help rid the country of a "liberal breeding ground."

State Sen. Kerry Roberts, a Republican, made the comments during the Sept. 2 recording of his radio talk show. Roberts was discussing a state legislative debate, during which Tennessee lawmakers discussed the possibility of passing a strict ban on abortions. 

The lawmaker shared his thoughts on a number of issues surrounding the debate, including an activist who protested to protect abortions in Tennessee. He went on to suggest that the activist's beliefs may have been influenced by her college education. 

"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! Good grief!" Roberts said. 

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Roberts, who earlier this year voted on a state budget that would fund public colleges with state taxes dollars, later said the comments were meant as a joke. The senator shared a Facebook post on Monday addressing the comments, along with a screenshot of the dictionary definition of the word "hyperbole."

"A week ago, I went on a rant on The Kerry Roberts Show calling out higher education as a liberal breeding ground and calling for its elimination. My listeners clearly understood the humor and hyperbole of it," the post said.

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The 57-year-old lawmaker issued another statement on Tuesday, again emphasizing the hyperbolic nature of his comments. Still, he stood by some of his claims.

"Many higher education institutions have unquestionably become liberal breeding grounds where radical values and hatred for America are fomented," Roberts said.

Roberts, from Springfield, Tenn., graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Science in 1983. 

"Conservative parents are often spending (or borrowing) tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in an elaborate bait and switch," he also said in Tuesday's statement. "They sign up their children for education and advancement and instead receive intimidation and indoctrination."