President Donald Trump is rarely so blatantly conflicted when standing in front of the masses. But when he took the stage Friday night in Alabama to campaign for Sen. Luther Strange in his race against insurgent conservative Roy Moore, you could tell that the president was having second thoughts. While Trump said Strange was a “good guy,” he acknowledged that he – meaning Trump – might have erred when deciding to get involved in the heated race.
“We have to be loyal in life,” Trump said. “There is something called loyalty, and I might have made a mistake. I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.”
Trump also hedged his bets, vowing to support Moore if he pulled off the win on Tuesday.
“By the way, both good men and you know what, I told Luther if his opponent wins, I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him,” he said.
Trump also made an odd comment that tried to put daylight between Strange and the Senate Majority Leader. “He’s not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t know him; he just got here.”
Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but the fact remains that McConnell and the McConnell-inspired Senate Leadership Fund has firmly backed Strange against his conservative opponent, delivering millions in campaign financing to ensure the retention of the seat. This is, of course, what McConnell always does when one of his establishment guys is challenged by a grassroots movement. It is, as Trump should recall, what the entire Republican Party leadership was doing when Trump himself was running roughshod over their approved presidential candidates.
Now, oddly enough, Trump is on the establishment’s side, and he appears to have realized that it was a mistake.
There are understandable, non-conspiratorial reasons that Trump would back Sen. Strange. Moore is extremely religious, and you don’t have to look very closely at the president to see that Trump doesn’t spend a lot of time on Bible study. Trump may also have forged a personal relationship with Strange, and that counts for a lot in his world.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow Trump and McConnell teaming up to defeat a candidate of the people. Moore is firmly anti-establishment, and his election would be yet another stirring blow to the GOP’s business-as-usual, ignore-the-people politics. It would have been really nice to see Trump support that movement – the same movement that put him in the White House. Maybe he has good reasons for not doing so, but we think he nailed it in his speech: He made a mistake.