Trump’s Revisionist History of His Role in Alabama Race
Posted December 13, 2017 8:05 p.m. EST
After a Democrat prevailed in a special Senate election in Alabama, a ruby-red Republican state, President Donald Trump offered on Wednesday a truncated and misleading account of his role in the race.
Trump had endorsed Roy Moore, the Republican who was accused of sexual misconduct by several women and was narrowly defeated Tuesday night by Doug Jones, a Democrat and former prosecutor.
By early Wednesday morning, the president sought to distance himself from the loss by reminding his Twitter followers that he had doubts about Moore months ago. Back then, Trump supported Luther Strange, the Republican who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general.
“The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”
But that is a highly amended account of the president’s efforts in the Alabama race.
Trump officially endorsed Strange on Aug. 8 as he ran against Moore and several other Republicans in the primary election a week later.
At the time, Moore was leading the Republican field by an average of 6 points, according to polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics.com. In a runoff election after the primary, Moore led Strange by an average of 9 points.
If Alabama voters were unmoved by the president’s pick in the primary, Trump himself seemed similarly unenthusiastic.
At a Sept. 22 campaign rally for Strange, Trump mused that he had backed the wrong man. “I’ll be honest. I might have made a mistake,” Trump said, predicting correctly that Strange’s loss would reflect poorly on him and calling both candidates “good men.”
Moments later, however, he said Strange would be more competitive in the general election against a Democrat than Moore would. “Luther will definitely win,” he continued, “Roy has a very good chance of not winning in the general election.”
Flying back to Washington after that rally, however, Trump reportedly raged against his political aides for urging him to back Strange, given the president’s misgivings. After Moore prevailed in the runoff, Trump deleted several tweets promoting “Big Luther.”
Firehouse Strategies, a Republican research firm, found that Trump’s endorsement and active campaigning for Strange “had absolutely no impact on the ballot.”
On Sept. 27, Trump threw his support behind Moore in a tweet: “Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race. He will help to #MAGA!”
The president continued to stand by Moore, a conservative former judge, after several women accused the candidate of making sexual or romantic overtures toward them as teenagers.
“He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen,” Trump said on Nov. 21, adding, " But I can tell you, you don’t need somebody who’s soft on crime, like Jones.”
Trump offered a strong endorsement of Moore last week.
On Friday, Trump campaigned for Moore in Pensacola, Florida, where he urged neighboring Alabamians to “get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it.”
Asked last week about his decision to endorse Moore, Trump predicted, “I think he’s going to do very well.”