Forces that support former Alabama state supreme court chief justice Roy Moore in his primary Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Luther Strange have already started to capitalize on some of President Donald Trump’s lukewarm remarks at his Friday-night rally for the Alabama senator.
Courageous Conservatives PAC, which is backing Moore in the race, cut an ad Saturday highlighting some of Trump’s comments from the rally. Those comments included Trump saying that if Moore defeats Strange in the special election, he’s “gonna be here campaigning like hell for him” and that he “might have made a mistake” wading into the primary battle and endorsing Strange.
A source close to the PAC said the ad, which is titled “I Made A Mistake,” was viewed more than 30,000 times in Alabama after it launched online. The source added that, although it was too late to get the ad placed on TV ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the ad was getting five-figures worth of backing for online platforms.
Watch the ad:
Trump’s endorsement of Strange, who opponents have tried to tie closely with establishment Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has baffled some supporters who believe that Trump’s platform is much more closely aligned with Moore, Strange’s right-wing challenger.
In recent days, Moore has received the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Trump administration staffer Sebastian Gorka, who held a pro-Moore rally. Ben Carson, Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development, released a statement ahead of Trump’s Friday rally praising Moore, though he did not go as far as giving his endorsement. On the other hand, Vice President Mike Pence is set to travel to Alabama on Monday to campaign for Strange.
Polling has shown Moore with a substantial lead over Strange, although the race has tightened slightly in recent days. Strange was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year.
At the Friday-night rally, Trump said Strange “wants to end business as usual, stop the insider dealing, and Luther is determined to drain that swamp.”
“Luther has proved that he’s not beholden to anyone,” he continued.
But he added that he’s “taking a big risk” in endorsing Strange “because if Luther doesn’t make it” the media is “going to go after me.”
Though he promised to campaign for Moore if he wins the primary, Trump added that the conservative hardliner “has a very good chance of not winning” in a general election against a Democrat.
“They say he’s friendly with Mitch – he doesn’t even know Mitch McConnell,” Trump said of Strange at the Huntsville, Alabama rally. “Luther is a tough, tough cookie. He doesn’t deal with and kowtow to anybody.”