Trump to Roy Moore: You won't win a Senate seat so don't run

A smart play by Trump, even though the claim he’s making here isn’t true. Moore would be the weakest possible Republican nominee against Doug Jones next year, the one guy who *could* conceivably lose to the incumbent — but it’s doubtful that he would lose. Unlike in 2017, Jones will have two years of Schumer-supporting votes in the Senate that he’ll have to defend to Alabama’s conservative voters. And unlike in 2017, he’ll be facing Trump himself at the top of the ballot. Turnout for a presidential election in a blood-red state is likely to be high enough to drag even Roy Moore across the finish line.

So, really, Trump has it backwards. The reason to oppose Moore isn’t that he’s a good guy who can’t win. It’s that he’s not a good guy who can win, albeit with far less certainty than anyone else in the primary field.

Either way, he’s doing his best here to avoid another electoral disaster in Alabama. Although if we learned anything from the 2017 primary, it’s that not even Donald Trump can talk southern populists out of making a major, obvious mistake:

Don Jr got in on the act too, and was less politic in his discouragement than dad was:

Moore (or is it someone posing as Moore?) took to Twitter to defend himself, taking care not to attack the Trumps directly — only indirectly, by implying that they’re now part of the establishment:

Why this flurry of activity from POTUS and Junior aimed at Moore? Because: According to GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, who’s also running for the nomination in Alabama, people close to Moore have told him that Moore plans to announce his candidacy within the next few days. Another congressman from Alabama confirmed to The Hill that he’s heard Moore will enter the race in June. That had been rumored for months, with a poll published last month showing Moore leading a hypothetical primary by nine points. Read this post if you missed it at the time, though, and you’ll see that that poll wasn’t encouraging for Moore despite his frontrunner status. He notched just 27 percent of the vote despite his high name recognition and he’s running in a state where nothing short of 50, whether in the first round or in the runoff, will win you a primary. How does he get there with Trump against him, with the 2017 nightmare fresh in Republicans’ minds, and with his opponents ready to revisit the allegations about teenaged girls? Trump may be right that Moore can’t win a Senate seat in Alabama at this point, but it’s not because he can’t win a general election. It’s because he — probably — can’t win a Republican primary. Byrne or some other “Anyone But Moore” choice will reach a majority, even if it takes a runoff to do it.

Exit question: If Moore’s support remains surprisingly resilient, will Trump convince Mo Brooks to enter the race? Brooks said a few weeks ago that he definitely won’t run for the seat this time, but he polled second in the survey published in April. If Moore starts picking up Brooks’s populist supporters, suddenly that places him not terribly far from 50 percent. Trump might need Brooks in the race. Or, if all else fails, he might need to convince his old pal Jeff Sessions to come out of retirement.