Luther Strange: I Wouldn’t Have Trump’s Backing If I Was ‘Part Of The Problem’

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Senate candidate Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who is running against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) to finish out Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ term in the Senate, said Tuesday that he wouldn’t have President Donald Trump’s support if he was “part of the problem” with Washington, D.C.

Steve Doocy asked Strange on “Fox and Friends” to explain how he won Trump’s backing, despite being “for the most part the establishment candidate” and Trump’s candidacy as a “kind of a ‘drain the swamp’ antiestablishment President.”

“Well, I can assure you, Steve, if I were part of the problem, the President wouldn’t be down here campaigning so hard for me,” Strange replied.

Strange said he has “been in Washington less time” than Trump has and that he and the President have “become friends, personal friends.”

“We have the same goals, same agenda, and so I think it’s a narrative that’s being created because there are other agendas out there,” he said. “People who don’t like Mitch McConnell, for example — other things going on.”

Polls opened Tuesday for Strange’s primary runoff against Moore, who has come up in the lead in every public survey of the campaign despite Trump’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) support for the appointed senator.

Though Strange has the President’s support, Moore — a hardline conservative who Trump misidentified as “Ray” in an interview on Monday, and who whipped out a handgun at a rally Monday night — has the backing of Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former aide Sebastian Gorka.

Bannon on Monday night threatened McConnell “and Ward Baker and Karl Rove and Steven Law” with a “day of reckoning” for being “the instruments that tried to destroy” Moore and his family.

Bannon claimed that mainstream Republicans (“the most corrupt, incompetent group of individuals in this country”) think of Moore’s supporters as “a pack of morons.”

“They think you’re nothing but rubes. They have no interest at all in what you have to say, what you have to think or what you want to do,” he said. “And tomorrow, you’re gonna get an opportunity to tell them what you think of the elites who run this country!”

Trump last week said he “might have made a mistake” by backing Strange rather than Moore, whose rhetoric has marked similarities to Trump’s own, but has nevertheless tweeted lackluster endorsements of Strange through the lead-up to the runoff.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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