With all eyes on the Senate runoff between Sen. Luther Strange and challenger Roy Moore, it seems as though Alabama is the center of the political universe this week. That’s thanks in part to President Donald Trump’s visit to the Heart of Dixie on Friday to tout Strange as the administration-approved contender. It isn’t clear whether Trump’s endorsement will put Strange over the top– and it’s less clear whether the president even knows that much about the race he’s attempting to influence.
Did anything interesting happen at Trump’s rally in Huntsville Friday? Not really.
Unless you’ve somehow managed to avoid a newspaper or television since the president’s Alabama speech, you already know that Trump criticized the NFL for players kneeling during the national anthem.
Like I said, nothing interesting happened there.
And why should the president have said anything interesting? He isn’t even really well-informed on the candidates running in the state’s Senate primary runoff. So why not jabber about the NFL and players taking a knee, way down in SEC country, in a state that doesn’t have a professional football team?
You see what I’m getting at here?
Trump doesn’t know Alabama. So how could he possibly know which candidate in the Senate race is most likely to take Alabama values to Washington?
Perhaps the better question would be to ask why the hell a New York playboy-turned-president would want Alabama values in Washington– that’s where you get an answer that at least makes sense: He doesn’t.
Trump’s been co-opted by the Republican establishment to ensure that Strange– a GOP yes-man– becomes the state’s next senator. And the whole thing would probably be pretty normal politics if it weren’t such a… swampy… situation.
Strange, after all, is Alabama’s former Attorney General, appointed to the Senate seat by a governor he was supposed to investigate amid an extremely embarrassing sex scandal. The scandal– which earned former Gov. Robert Bentley the name LuvGuv– didn’t sit well with Alabama’s conservative voters, nor did the AG’s promotion amid the investigation. It was all very strange.
Despite having to declare support for Strange to get a ticket to the Huntsville rally I attended Friday, it’s probably safe to assume the headliner brought plenty of people who aren’t planning to head out in support of the incumbent senator on Tuesday.
“I haven’t really been following the race that closely,” one woman told me. “I just came out to see President Trump.”
Asked whether she planned to vote for Strange, she assured me that she would… if she left work in time and wasn’t too tired.
Was I surprised? Not even a little bit. This is a special election.
But what remains surprising is that Trump was so easily convinced to throw in for Strange in the contest, especially considering that he admitted outright Monday to knowing little about Moore ahead of his endorsement.
“Luther Strange is going to be a great Senator,” Trump said on the state’s popular Rick and Bubba radio show during a call-in interview. “He loves Alabama, he loves the state and he loves the country. He will absolutely win against the Democrat. Ray will have a hard time. If Luther wins, the Democrats will hardly fight. If Ray wins (Democrats) will pour in $30 million.”
It’s “not a good sign” that Trump couldn’t even get (Roy) Moore’s first name correct, host Rick Burgess said as he corrected the president.
“I don’t know that much about Roy Moore,” Trump said. “Roy Moore is going to have a very hard time getting elected against the Democrat. Against Luther, they won’t even fight.”
We know you don’t know much about Moore, Mr. President. That’s why Alabama conservatives, myself included, have been trying to set you straight since you endorsed the swamp-approved candidate against a battle tested conservative.
Still, it doesn’t much matter. As I said, it’s a special election– and it’s going down in a state where the only thing harder than getting folks to show up to vote for Strange is going to be getting them to turn out to vote against Moore, a guy who lost his job twice for refusing to back off conservative positions.
Here’s a piece that could help Trump learn a thing or two about Moore: Somewhere in Alabama, Donald Trump took a wrong turn on conservatism