There’s been a lot of talk about President Trump’s outright endorsement of Luther Strange over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate primary runoff. Much of Moore’s support is coming from Trump’s base while Strange is more of a Mitch McConnell guy. Moore is anti-Establishment. Strange IS the Establishment. What gives?
This is actually a good thing for both Trump and Moore. Before we explore why it’s good for them to steer clear of each other, let’s get the easy answer about Trump’s support for Strange. The President has never hidden the fact that he holds loyalty as more important than ideology or qualifications/ This can be seen by the group of amateurs and leftists he surrounds himself with from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson. In case there as any doubt, Trump Tweeted about it:
Looking forward to Friday night in the Great State of Alabama. I am supporting "Big" Luther Strange because he was so loyal & helpful to me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
For those of us who support Moore, this is absolutely fine. In fact, it’s ideal. Both the President and the Senate candidate have very checkered pasts. Moore has been embroiled in nearly as many controversies as Trump. In Alabama, he’s been called by similar names as Trump by leftists and moderates. They’re both considered “intolerant” in certain circles. They’ve both been called “bigots” on multiple occasions. This alone makes it sensible to keep them separate. If Trump endorsed him, even more red flags would rise about Moore.
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Another reason it’s good that they’re separated is because ideologically they’re extremely different. On the surface, this might not be easy to see. Dig just a little deeper and you’ll see that Moore bases most (all?) of his policy stances on his Biblical worldview. Trump rarely went to church before it became prudent to do so as a candidate and now as President. They agree on many issues such as immigration, but they came to their opinions from completely different paths.
Lastly, this is a good litmus test for Trump’s influence over the GOP itself. His endorsement and future presence in Alabama will give other Republicans an excellent data point about how important his endorsement is. Moore has been in the lead for weeks but that lead has been shrinking. If Trump’s endorsement is enough to push Strange over the top, few Republicans in tight races next year would be willing to challenge him. They’ll hop on that bandwagon and pledge undying loyalty to the man who can deliver their election.
If Moore wins, it will send a very different message: the Establishment with Trump’s support is still the Establishment. Alabama’s primary runoff will set the direction for many in the GOP in the midterm elections. All eyes should be watching very closely.
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