“They’re even wearing ‘I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat’ T-shirts. ‘See? It’s funny because we’re traitors!’ I guess the new saying is ‘Better red than well-read!’”@billmaher pic.twitter.com/uGhekt643T— Michael Fiorello ?????? (@mjfiorello) August 25, 2018
After an Aug. 4 rally in Ohio, James Timothy "Tim" Alicie and Richard Birchfield became famous for their custom-made T-shirts that read, “I’d Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat.”
While President Donald Trump didn’t notice their shirts as they'd hoped, another very infamous group did.
The pair told local news organization Cleveland.com that they were even invited to speak at a Ku Klux Klan event, an invitation which they turned down.
America First? Not so much. pic.twitter.com/WmgWKFLt6v— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) August 5, 2018
They maintained that although they avoid the negative comments made about their clothing choice because they have flip phones and don’t keep up with the internet, they are not “traitors.”
“We’re not traitors by any means. And we’re not Russian spies or cult leaders,” Alicie told reporters, despite the fact that they embrace the idea of being called “Russian hillbillies.”
"I'd Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat" t-shirt wearer James "Tim" Alicie answers critics who have called him a traitor https://t.co/eWic4EE6f0— Jeremy Pelzer (@jpelzer) August 28, 2018
When talking about the KKK invitation to speak, Alicie said that they declined the offer because the racist group's views do not match their own.
“I surely don’t agree with any of their views,” Alicie said.
Still, the Trump supporter said he doesn’t believe members of the KKK are all that different from everyone else.
"For the most part, they're probably not a hell of a lot different than anybody else. But I can't help it that they got a twisted mind the way they think about certain things," he explained.
Supporters of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche also reached out to them, according to Cleveland.com, but Alicie said it wasn’t clear why.
"I don't know if they were trying to recruit us or what," he said.
I caught up with the two Trump fans I photographed wearing "I'd Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat" shirts. This story has it all: the KKK, Russian Hillbillies, flip phones https://t.co/fRrLLyFCHr— Jeremy Pelzer (@jpelzer) August 28, 2018
During the event, Alicie said that they lost count of how many people asked to take their pictures, adding that they had been stopped several times even before entering the venue.
Now, the two men said they hope to trademark their T-shirt design so they can sell “authentic” versions online. However, Alicie said, their lack of access to the internet would make things difficult.
"We're handicapped bad because with [Birchfield's] flip phone and mine and no computer, we can't keep track of what's going on," he explained.
The friends also expressed discouragement with news outlets for not keeping up with everything that the president has done, begging the question: Without the internet, how do the two men really keep up with the news on how Trump is doing while in office?
According to Birchfield, the two are crazy about (you guessed it) Fox News.
"I may be getting some wrong information from Fox News — I watch mainly Fox News — but it seems like we've got a lot of news people, reporters, newspapers that won't print the accomplishments he's getting done for the American people," he said.
When asked about Paul Manafort’s convictions as well as Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen incriminating the president by saying Trump directed him to pay women to stay quiet about extramarital affairs, the two men shrugged it off.
"Well, he's a businessman," Alicie said, referring to the president. "I know a lot of small business owners, and, you know, during the last administration, the ones that still got their doors open, every one of them cheated."
However, Trump is not a small businessman, so it's uncertain how that would compare.
Still, Birchfield went on to say that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation "has run just way out of line" from the original goal of looking into Russian collusion, and that the country “will become more united when this thing is over.”
The two pals may have declined to speak at a KKK event, but it’s quite telling that the notoriously racist and fringe organization would be so willing to have these two dedicated Trump supporters speak to their members, especially after they appeared to have a friendly attitude toward Russia.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts