Knoxville state lawmaker Rep. Martin Daniel apologizes for Muhammad Ali tweets

Rep. Martin Daniel

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Tennessee State Rep. Martin Daniel apologized Thursday for his tweets about the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali shortly after his death, saying he didn’t realize they would be construed as being “in the line of duty.”

Daniel’s tweets mention Ali by his birth name, “Cassius Clay,” and bring up an indictment he faced during the Vietnam War for draft evasion.

“In 5/67, Cassius Clay was indicted for refusal to be drafted into the armed forces. The S Ct reversed lower Ct conviction on technicality,” read one of the tweets. “Dutiful, patriotic, brave black and white men died in jungles while Cassius sat warm and cozy in USA,” read another. Daniel later deleted his Twitter account.

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The tweets drew a large amount of controversy and backlash, with many calling the comments disrespectful. Daniel said during a taping of “Tennessee This Week” that he made a mistake.

“I made a mistake. I didn’t understand the degree to which my personal comments would be construed as being in the line of duty. I made a mistake and it won’t happen again. I’m focused on issues for the 18th district and for the state of Tennessee and I will remain that way,” said Daniel.

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Daniel also apologized for saying during Capitol Hill discussion of his “Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act,” that ISIS should be allowed to recruit on college campuses. He said he didn’t answer the question correctly and the intent of the bill was to make sure traditional conservative students had the same right to speak as, for instance, Bernie Sanders supporters. Daniel is running in the Tennessee District 18 GOP Primary. The election is August 4.

The full episode of “Tennessee This Week” airs Sunday at noon on WATE 6 On Your Side.

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