President Donald Trump continues to back a candidate favored by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Alabama Republican Senate primary, despite his criticism of McConnell’s leadership.
“Luther Strange of the Great State of Alabama has my endorsement. He is strong on Border & Wall, the military, tax cuts & law enforcement,” Trump tweeted Monday. Sen. Luther Strange, the incumbent, is one of three leading Republican candidates heading into the GOP primary Tuesday.
The other two candidates are former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks. The most recent public polling shows Moore ahead with 35 percent, Strange in second at 23 percent, and Brooks at 20 percent. There will be a runoff on September 26 if no one gets over 50 percent of the vote.
Strange became senator in February following Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general, and his campaign has been supported by the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC tied to McConnell. This is significant as Trump spent the last week attacking McConnell. He tweeted Thursday, “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
Trump endorsed Strange last Tuesday and Rep. Brooks subsequently put out a statement which said, “I respect President Trump, but I am baffled and disappointed Mitch McConnell and the Swamp somehow misled the President into endorsing Luther Strange.”
Moore, however, has taken a more measured approach. “I don’t know if there’s anything I’d say about Trump’s endorsement. Trump’s got every right to endorse who he wants. I don’t know what kind of deals are made behind the scenes in Washington, DC. I don’t know. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know what he’s been told about me and probably if he’s been told about me what they’ve been saying – I don’t know,” Moore told Breitbart.
One Republican Alabama insider told TheDC that he believes Trump was likely convinced by Washington figures that Strange would be more manageable and reliable than Moore or Brooks. Trump also could have been peeved by Brooks siding with Jeff Sessions when Trump was criticizing the attorney general.