Bloomberg’s Joshua Green explains why Donald Trump is in Alabama:
Donald Trump’s surprise decision to hold a massive rally in Mobile, Alabama, tonight completely puzzled political insiders and journalists. Alabama, unlike Iowa or New Hampshire, is not a critical early state in the Republican presidential primaries, nor is it a general-election swing state that would benefit from early cultivation. So to put it in terms Trump might use: What’s the deal?
It turns out, according to two Trump associates I spoke with, that Trump views Alabama, and the other Southern states that hold March 1st primaries, as the key to locking down the Republican nomination. The stadium rally is also a way to deepen his identification with Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who lives in Mobile and whose view on immigrants and immigration—he’s mainly against both—Trump shares. As Sessions told me, he and Trump appeal to the same type of voters, “a lot of middle-class working people, who don’t trust establishment messaging. I call it ‘honest populism.’”
Here is the Trump political logic: “Alabama is extremely critical,” a close associate of Trump’s told me (actually, we agreed I’d call him “a close associate of Mr. Trump”). “You have Iowa’s caucus on February 1st, New Hampshire on the 9th, and South Carolina on the 20th.” The race, this associate explained, would not be wrapped up by then. According to this political calculus, the crucial moment arrives three days later, on March 1st, with the “SEC primary”—the belt of Southern states that encompass the Southeastern Athletic Conference—when Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas and several others hold their primaries.
Read the whole thing.