Friday, President Donald Trump will appear in Huntsville, AL to promote the candidacy of Luther Strange, who is competing in a runoff election for the Republican Party’s nomination for the Alabama U.S. Senate special election.
But it won’t be at the same venue in Huntsville that Trump received the endorsement of Jeff Sessions on the eve of Alabama’s 2016 GOP presidential primary. Instead, Trump’s appearance will be at the smaller Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville, 10 miles east of Madison City Stadium, the site of his 2016 event.
According to the Von Braun Center’s website, its Propst Arena has a maximum capacity of 9,000. At Trump’s 2016 rally, estimates were much higher.
White House aides told Breitbart News they were worried about turning out a large crowd size for Trump, given they know the president has already given his endorsement and that he and the Vice President Mike Pence are campaigning for the establishment candidate against the presumed anti-establishment candidate former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
“It doesn’t look good to have them [Trump and Pence] stumping for the guy who is going to lose,” one White House official said.
Pence is slated to campaign in Birmingham on Monday for Strange.
Another, who wished not to be quoted, told Breitbart News that many people in the White House are concerned that Trump will be unimpressed with crowd size because Alabamians do not think highly of Strange given his lobbyist history.
“We have concerns that there may not be a high amount of turnout at the rallies for Strange and we are concerned that some of those that may show up may be there to shout pro-Roy Moore slogans–or that they just want to see the president and vice president but still plan to vote for Roy Moore,” a third White House aide told Breitbart News. “Translating this into votes for Luther Strange is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.”
After the February 2016 rally in nearby Madison, Trump told attendees the crowd was upwards of 30,000.
THANK YOU ALABAMA! 32,000 supporters tonight. Get out & VOTE on Tuesday! WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/rOkldN7dat
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 29, 2016
Law enforcement the day after that event put the figure much lower. Maj. Jim Cooke of the Madison Police Department told AL.com at the time the estimate was between 12,000-15,000 people in attendance, which is still significantly higher than the Von Braun Center’s capacity.
The rally will be competing with high school football. Fifteen different high school football games are scheduled in the area around the time of the event according to The Decatur Daily.
In an early post on Twitter, Trump had said the event would be Saturday.
I will be in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday night to support Luther Strange for Senate. "Big Luther" is a great guy who gets things done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2017
However, the Strange campaign announced Monday it would be held Friday.
That led some to speculate the event was moved up a day not to conflict with the University of Alabama and the Auburn University football games scheduled that day.
M&A Snap Poll:
Do you believe Donald Trump changed the day of his visit to AL from Saturday to Friday because of football?
— Talk 99.5 (@realtalk995) September 19, 2017
The Alabama Crimson Tide play on the road in Nashville, TN against the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Auburn Tigers face the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, MO.
Strange faces Moore in a runoff election next Tuesday for the Republican Party’s nomination in a special election for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions. The winner will go on to face former Clinton U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, the Democratic Party nominee, on December 12.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor
Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle contributed reporting to this story.