What do you do when the star to which you’ve hitched your wagon by praising his leadership and insight decides to shine on your rival instead? Accuse him of being gullible and ill-advised — at least if you’re Mo Brooks. The Congressman is vying for the nomination to replace Jeff Sessions in the US Senate has tried to ingratiate himself with Alabama voters by declaring himself the most loyal of Donald Trump’s allies. while accusing current interim Senator Luther Strange of siding with Mitch McConnell over the president.
In fact, Brooks ran an ad on Tuesday with that exact theme, even down to using a version of Trump’s “Little Marco” on Strange while depicting himself as standing with Trump against “the Swamp”:
— Mo Brooks (@mobrooksforsen) August 8, 2017
You’d think that Trump would appreciate that kind of populist, against-the-Beltway attack ad. Unfortunately for Brooks, he got an answer to this pitch just four hours later:
Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
D’oh! How could Brooks respond to that while keeping his pro-Trump cred? Easy — blame the swamp:
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks on Wednesday accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of misleading President Donald Trump to endorse Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate race. …
“Perhaps the President is unaware that Luther Strange corruptly and unethically held a criminal investigation over the head of disgraced Governor Bentley to obtain the senate appointment,” Brooks said. …
Brooks also said Strange wants to keep in place the filibuster rule in the Senate “that empowers Chuck Schumer and the Democrats to kill the entire conservative, Republican, and President Trump legislative agendas.”
So Trump’s not smart enough to outsmart the swamp, eh? That’s a strange argument, if you’ll pardon that turn of phrase, for someone who’s tried to stick to the president like glue.
It may not matter much anyway. Brooks has been a distant third in the limited polling that has taken place for next week’s special-election primary. A survey sponsored by Republican blog RRH Elections published yesterday shows Strange in a virtual tie with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, trailing by two at 29/31, with Brooks at 18%. Another poll published last week from JMC Analytics shows Moore up 30/22 over Strange with Brooks at 19%, but the demographics on that sample leave something to be desired, the Montgomery Advertiser reported:
The survey of 500 Republican voters by Louisiana-based JMC Analytics and Polling – which reached a large number of groups traditionally supportive of Moore – found judge leading the crowded GOP field with 30 percent of the vote. U.S. Sen. Luther Strange got 22 percent of the vote, while U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, had 19 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. …
The poll leaned toward groups Moore does best in. 70 percent of those surveyed described themselves as evangelical Christians. 47 percent were aged 65 and older.
Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Strange likely damages Moore too. He has also run as the ne plus ultra Trumpian candidate, which makes Moore’s position just as tricky as Brooks’. If Trump support is the key to this primary fight — and clearly all three candidates believe it is — then Strange has a powerful argument in the home stretch to Tuesday’s primary. And the media assumption that Trump’s base is eroding certainly appears to be contradicted, at least in Alabama.