During a rally in support of Luther Strange’s election campaign, President Donald Trump attempted to distance any relationship between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Strange despite McConnell-linked money streaming into the race and a report that McConnell handpicked Strange for the seat.
“He’s not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t know Mitch McConnell, until just recently,” Trump said of Strange at Friday night’s rally for Strange. He added that he wasn’t saying that as a bad comment about “Mitch, at all.”
“He just got there,” Trump said of Strange. He stated that he once asked Strange how well he knows McConnell and Strange claimed that he had just met McConnell.
“In fact…he just came out against that totally ridiculous rule, the filibuster rule, that’s ridiculous,” said Trump of Strange. He spoke of the 52 Republicans in the U.S. Senate and the need to have 60 votes to pass much legislation in that governing body.
However, Strange has spent significant time In Washington, D.C., and as a registered lobbyist.
The New York Times reported in February on Strange’s previous work with D.C.-establishment operative Karl Rove and their meeting in the 1990s. The report notes Strange’s time as a D.C. lobbyist and work for “a white-shoe Birmingham law firm with deep ties to the establishment wing of the Republican Party.” The report also highlighted McConnell’s enthusiasm for Strange and that Strange is “no stranger to the swamp.”
Strange ran the Washington, D.C., government affairs office for Sonat before returning to Alabama to join the establishment-connected Birmingham law firm.
Questions also remain after Strange asked the state legislature to suspend an investigation into then-Gov. Robert Bentley, which it did. Bentley appointed Strange to Sessions’ Senate seat. The Governor “denied any impropriety in his selection” according to the Times.
Bentley has been extremely clear that McConnell sent him a message about appointing Strange to the Senate seat. “I went by his office, and the first person that he actually mentioned was Luther Strange,” said Bentley, according to the Times. “He named several people, but the first one that he mentioned was Luther Strange.”
Not only was Strange reportedly McConnell’s first pick, but the McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund PAC has dropped millions and millions of dollars into the race. Just days ago the PAC sunk yet another $830,000 into the race.
Despite the many millions dumped into the race to prop up Strange, he has continually trailed his GOP opponent Judge Roy Moore in the polls. A statewide FOX10/Strategy Research poll conducted before a Thursday night debate between Moore and Strange was released on Friday. It showed Moore still leading Strange, 54-46.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana