Battle for the Soul of Trump’s GOP: Alabama runoff in the spotlight

Political junkies throughout the nation have a close watch on Alabama ahead of next week’s Senate special election runoff between GOP Sen. Luther Strange and conservative challenger Judge Roy Moore. The election, in which Trump has endorsed the establishment-favored incumbent, is shaping up as a referendum on the Trump administration’s seeming decision earlier this year to begin putting distance between itself and its most conservative supporters.

Trump is slated to make his way to Huntsville, Ala., Friday to lead a rally in support of Strange’s Senate bid.

A day later, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and a handful of House Freedom Caucus lawmakers will appear at a Moore rally in McCintosh, Ala.

Moore’s campaign has invited the president to attend the latter event following his Strange hype speech, the implication being that Trump’s true Alabama supporters will be at the challenger’s event.

“Mr. President, now that your rally schedule in Alabama has changed and the Huntsville Rally has been rescheduled to Friday evening, I am writing to invite you to join your friends and those who have stood most faithfully and loyally beside you at a rally as far from the Washington, D.C. establishment as you can get,” Dean Young, a longtime Moore political ally, wrote in a letter to the president.

“As with the great people of Huntsville, you will be at home in the reddest heart of America with those who have rejected Mitch McConnell’s agenda and who have embraced your own agenda,” he continued.

“Even though we may disagree on who the best candidate is to help you make America great again, we continue to agree on who the best candidate is to make America great… you!” Young added.

Trump’s decision to back Strange, the candidate anointed by the Washington GOP establishment and appointed by disgraced former Ala. Gov Robert Bentley, was met with plenty of puzzlement from the president’s drain-the-swamp supporters earlier this year.

I wrote last month about Trump’s odd decision to take the establishment side in the race. 

In the weeks since that piece was published, Trump’s administration made several moves– making deals with Democrats, firing Steve Bannon, etc.– which could explain that the Strange endorsement was the beginning of the administration’s slow march toward lockstep with the very establishment it said it would dismantle.

 

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