HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – In case there was any doubt, President Donald Trump can still draw a big crowd in the Yellowhammer State.
Trump visited the Rocket City Friday night to stump for Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who is in a hotly contested runoff against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for the GOP’s nod in a U.S. Senate special election.
Trump acknowledged to the capacity crowd assembled at the Von Braun Center that Strange was playing from behind in this race. However, he said he believed Strange would come back and emerge victoriously.
“I think you’re going to come back and you’re going to kick everyone’s ass, and you’re going to be great,” Trump said. “You’re going to be great. Because he got saddled with things, he should not have gotten saddled with.”
Trump has been behind Strange since shortly before last month’s Republican primary.
Luther Strange of the Great State of Alabama has my endorsement. He is strong on Border & Wall, the military, tax cuts & law enforcement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Strange was able to make the runoff with that endorsement, but he still came up short against Moore by 25,000 votes, which was roughly a 6 percent margin.
Moore has also won over the endorsements of third and fourth place finishers in the primary, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Alabama State Sen. Trip Pittman (R), which could help Moore’s effort geographically.
Tonight was the second time Trump as a political candidate has come to Madison County, AL and the fifth time he has visited the state. The decision to have the rally with Trump could have been a strategic decision by Strange’s campaign.
Madison County was one of Moore’s weaker counties in the primary and with Brooks no longer in the running, many of the voters that went with Brooks in primary could be convinced to come out and support Strange.
Win or lose for Strange, Trump said he would still rally behind whichever of the two candidates emerge as the Republican Party’s nominee. But he didn’t back down from his prediction that Strange would win.
“I told Luther, and I have to say this — if his opponent wins, I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him,” he said. “But I have to say this, and just understand this … Luther will definitely win.”
Late in the rally, Trump acknowledged he was taking a risk by backing Strange and warned the media would be quick to point it out if Strange does not win.
“Again, I’m taking a big risk because if Luther doesn’t make it, they’re going to go after me,” Trump said, referring to the media’s potential reaction to a Strange defeat.
The winner of the Strange-Moore contest will face former Clinton U.S. Attorney Doug Jones in the special election on December 12.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor