Palin, Pro-Trump Group Roll Into Alabama Against McConnell-Backed Senator

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Roll tide, you betcha.

Former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is heading down to Alabama to help boost former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in his primary against appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), joining forces with a pro-Trump super-PAC to try to knock out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) strongly preferred candidate.

Palin will join a bus tour run by Great America Alliance, a pro-Trump group that recently added former White House staffer Andy Surabian, who has close ties to recently ousted former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The planned rally will occur late next week, according to a strategist close to the organization.

“Poll after poll has shown that the people of Alabama are rejecting big-time lobbyist Luther Strange in favor of conservative warrior judge Roy Moore,” that strategist told TPM. “We’re excited for Gov. Palin to barnstorm the state next week and put the final nail in the coffin of Mitch McConnell and [former Alabama Gov.] Robert Bentley’s hand-picked establishment puppet.”

As TPM has written, the race sets up an early flashpoint in Bannon’s planned war against McConnell and the GOP establishment.

Palin’s visit further heightens tensions in a race that has turned into a proxy war between McConnell and his allies and populist conservatives aligned with the White House, with Bannon at the helm. Though Trump himself endorsed Strange in the first round of the primary, he praised both candidates after they made the primary runoff and has been notably silent on his Strange support ever since.

Great America Alliance plans to spend in the low six figures to help the controversial Moore between now and the Sept. 26 primary election.

That includes an ad it plans to run during this weekend’s University of Alabama football — by far the most-watched event of the week in the state.

Moore is a controversial figure in the state best known for his hardline social conservative views and for twice being forced off the Supreme Court for refusing to follow higher court rulings. In the early 2000s he built, then refused to remove, a statue of the Ten Commandments at his courthouse, and more recently he ordered the state not to to issue same-sex marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

He’s led Strange in all public polls of the race in spite of millions of dollars of spending by a pro-McConnell super-PAC, though while some surveys have had him up comfortably by double-digit margins others have had Strange within striking distance.

Bannon’s crusading website Breitbart first wrote of Palin’s planned visit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.
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