|Luther Strange and Donald Trump|
Strange and Roy Moore square off tomorrow in a runoff that has become the nation's No. 1 political story. The winner will face Democrat Doug Jones, who is as shallow and ethically compromised as either Republican, in the Dec. 12 general election.
Polls have shown Moore as the front-runner in the GOP runoff, and that apparently is causing furrowed brows in the Republican hierarchy. Perhaps Strange should adopt the No. 1 GOP electoral strategy of the past 20 years or so: Keep the race close enough that Karl Rove and his minions can steal it at the 11th hour. Roy Moore and his supporters would be wise to keep an eye out for that one. From Politico:
Top administration officials and allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have spent days poring over public and private polling that shows Moore consistently leading Strange, though the race has tightened, say those familiar with the numbers.
On his way to Huntsville on Air Force One Friday to campaign for Strange, President Donald Trump was joined by a small team of aides that included Rick Dearborn, a veteran of Alabama politics, and Bill Stepien, the White House political director. Both aides, as well as a number of other administration officials, have privately expressed apprehension about the state of the race. Stepien brought a sheaf of the latest polling data.
Are McConnell, Rove, and the Trumpistas getting desperate? It's looking that way:
With Strange on the ropes and time running out, the party has launched a coordinated, scorched-earth campaign to take down Moore. The sheer breadth of the anti-Moore campaign has stunned Alabama’s political class: It includes non-stop TV ads, a meticulously-crafted get-out-the-vote effort, and detailed, oppo-research-filled debate prep sessions for Strange.
Moore, a 70-year-old former state Supreme Court chief justice who rose to national fame after refusing a federal order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a judicial building, is a staunch social conservative who has called for McConnell’s ouster and lambasted Republican leadership. If he comes out ahead on Tuesday, mainstream Republicans worry it would instigate a broader offensive by the activist right to unseat other GOP incumbents in the 2018 midterms.
"Winning here means we'll be able to focus our energy on defeating Democrats next year, instead of fighting useless and divisive intra-party battles," said Steven Law, a former McConnell chief of staff who serves as president and CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent millions of dollars in Alabama.
Republicans could wind up coiled and hissing at each other, like the snakes so many of them tend to be? Gee, wouldn't that be fun?
Moore has hammered Strange for receiving support for national Republicans, casting him as a pawn of the party establishment and especially McConnell. He has framed his campaign as a David vs. Goliath battle that would provide momentum to other insurgents if he wins.
“Everybody in Washington, as I said tonight, is watching this election,” Moore said at a post-debate rally in Montgomery with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “The 2018 senatorial elections are coming up, and they see this could bring a change in our direction for the country. So this is a very important election.”
Moore’s side is gearing up, too. Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, has cut a robocall that's expected to go out to voters starting Monday. And that evening, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who has broken with Trump in the race, will join “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson and Brexit leader Nigel Farage for what is expected to be a raucous pro-Moore rally in Fairhope, Alabama.
Speaking of Bannon, his Breitbart sites says Trump is less-than-enthused about his support of Strange. Polls are showing that Trump's visit to Huntsville, AL, did little to help Strange's chances:
If Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) was hoping for a full-throated, straightforward endorsement from President Trump, he will have been disappointed with the somewhat tortured thumbs-up he received from the president at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday night.
Strange, the establishment favorite in the Alabama Senate primary, is trailing in multiple polls to conservative opponent Judge Roy Moore and has clung to Trump’s endorsement as he seeks to sell himself as a candidate who will help drain the swamp and help Trump pass his agenda in Congress.
Yet Strange’s history as a D.C. lobbyist, his wobbly stance on DACA, and his big-money backing by the establishment GOP has not warmed him to deep-red Alabama Republicans, and he needed a big win from Trump on Friday to get him back on track.
But while Trump praised Strange as a “real fighter and a real good guy” and a “tough cookie” who “doesn’t deal and kowtow to anyone,” Trump also admitted he may have made a mistake getting involved in the race.
“We have to be loyal in life,” Trump said. “There is something called loyalty, and I might have made a mistake and I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.”