President Donald Trump is siding with the establishment Republicans he warred against during his insurgent presidential campaign in a Senate primary in Alabama that reveals the fractures in the GOP.
Sen. Luther Strange is facing off against former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore in a Sept. 26 runoff. Polling has consistently had Moore ahead of Strange, and thus President Trump is paying a visit to Alabama Friday.
“Alabama is sooo lucky to have a candidate like ‘Big’ Luther Strange. Smart, tough on crime, borders & trade, loves Vets & Military,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Trump’s endorsement of Strange in early August surprised many Trump allies. The president was publicly feuding with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the time, and a super PAC linked to McConnell has spent millions supporting Strange’s candidacy.
Shortly following Trump’s endorsement, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was privately charging that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told the president to back Strange, an Alabama Republican political operative with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Caller.
A White House official denied that Bannon’s claim is true, and told TheDC, “Kushner never discussed the issue with the president.”
Since rejoining Breitbart News after leaving the White House, Bannon’s outlet has gone to war against Strange, highlighting how he could allegedly profit from a visa program and claiming the White House is worried about a small crowd size when Trump visits Alabama.
These stories come amid Breitbart’s boosting of Moore’s campaign with articles like: “Alabama GOP Senate Frontrunner Roy Moore: ‘God Has Been With Us Throughout This Campaign.'”
The Alabama GOP primary comes after President Trump defied the odds and became the Republican nominee despite sharp resistance from entrenched forces such as the Chamber of Commerce, which is now supporting Strange.
The wounds in the GOP have not healed, as a recent poll from The Wall Street Journal showed that 98 percent of Trump primary voters back the president, while just 66 percent of non-Trump Republican primary voters approve of his performance in office. (RELATED: Poll Reveals GOP Still Hasn’t United Since Primaries)
The poll also showed that Trump primary voters care much more about limiting immigration than their counterparts.
Although Breitbart is selling Moore as the candidate most similar to Trump, the former Supreme Court chief justice revealed in a recent radio interview that he didn’t know what the DACA amnesty program is.
Soon after, Moore claimed that he and Sessions “would have the same opinion” on immigration and trade. However, Strange is a long time personal friend of Sessions, and the attorney general hopes he wins, a friend of Sessions’ told TheDC.
The president won’t be the only prominent figure from the administration visiting Alabama in hopes to sway the primary in Strange’s favor, as Vice President Mike Pence will hold a rally on Monday.
The Moore-backers appearing in the Yellowhammer State include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.