NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  A Republican Tennessee lawmaker says he was clearly joking when he called in a radio broadcast for the abolishment of higher education in order to cut off the "liberal breeding ground."

However, Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield said in a statement Tuesday that he stands behind his critique of liberal arts education in America "one hundred percent."

Roberts initially spoke in favor of eliminating higher education while speaking about attending a recent abortion legislative hearing on his conservative radio talk show on Sept. 2. The comments were floated on social media by The Tennessee Holler, a progressive-leaning organization. Roberts has since said his listeners understood it was hyperbole.

The Republican lawmaker says conservatives should demand balance in higher education institutions and that "leftist policies" are growing more aggressive.