Donald Trump’s Roy Moore Endorsement Surprises No One: Here’s Why
When President Donald Trump endorsed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Dec. 4, much of the country shook its collective heads. Far from expressing surprise, the educated electorate more or less expected Trump to endorse the candidate accused of pedophilia. The president’s tweeted endorsement of the Republican candidate brings several key issues to light.
1. He doesn’t communicate with the establishment GOP
The New York Times reports that Trump himself dictates who to support, a marked change from every modern White House policy. Meetings between The Republican National Committee, Senate campaign committees, and the president used to happen regularly — but those stopped months ago. Even simple things like getting the president’s signature have become difficult and the White House has not scheduled any fundraisers for candidates. That frustrates strategists and candidates alike.
“What’s lacking is a central hierarchy in any decision making, which is critical to candidates across [the] country,” said Scott Reed, the senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a veteran campaigner. “You have this feeling that no one is fully in charge of Republican politics.”
Next: Just check Twitter for the president’s strategy.
2. The president endorses who he wants, when he wants
Trump’s Twitter account has basically replaced The White House political affairs office. He almost never warns his advisers of what he plans to tweet, including the Moore endorsement.
“You can’t plan for him; you can only survive him,” said J. Tucker Martin, an adviser to Virginia governor candidate Ed Gillespie.
New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman told CNN the president’s Twitter presence rests out of anyone’s control. “People are constantly saying, ‘Don’t do things.’ He’s also a grown man. He’s the president. They can’t handcuff him,” she said. “They can’t break his fingers to keep him from tweeting. [Advisers] do tell him, ‘Please don’t do this.’ He does these things anyways.”
Next: Trump’s Moore endorsement might present a chance to make up for this failure.
3. He feels burned by Strange loss
Trump may believe he got burned by congressional advice, in the past. The president threw his support behind Senator Luther Strange, the Republican appointee filling the Alabama seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In September, Strange lost badly to Moore in a runoff.
According to The Washington Post, Trump seemed hesitant to back a candidate who appears less than bulletproof after losses in Alabama and Virginia. While he planned a fundraiser in Pensacola, Fla., he also decided not to campaign in Alabama itself. That said, after recent polls showed Moore gaining ground, the president threw in his hat. While many criticize the choice, his advisers fell into lockstep pretty quickly.
Next: One in particular defends his moral character. Not a joke.
4. The president’s counselor defends his endorsement
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s endorsement on CNN’s New Day, citing the president’s “high moral standards,” without blinking. “The White House has said the allegations are troubling,” Conway told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, after Cuomo said, “the president seems to have no moral standard at play.” Conway also noted that the president called the allegations “troubling,” citing the timeline and the fact that Moore denied them as defenses.
“Nobody came forward before,” she said. “The guy’s been on the ballot many times. Doug Jones is a liberal Democrat the president has said, and he doesn’t want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama in the United States Senate.”
Next: This vote represents one key reason Trump doesn’t want a Democrat to take the seat.
5. The tax bill needs Moore to pass
As Vox explains, “If Republicans are really committed to enacting a large, unpopular corporate tax cut — and they sure seem to be! — then they really need Moore to win the election next week, whether he’s a bigot or a sex criminal or whatever else.” Trump seems to follow that same line of thinking.
A lot of special favors snuck into the tax bill at the eleventh hour, as The Wall Street Journal breaks down. If Jones wins, more will surely follow. The House and Senate both passed versions of tax reform, but they hold key differences. Since the Senate bill contains important provisions that GOP leaders seem to genuinely want to scrap, they will have to rewrite the bill for it to pass. If a Democrat takes Strange’s seat, it will likely not go in their favor.
Next: But Trump also likes Moore for more selfish reasons.
6. Moore and Trump both represent anti-establishment politics
The two have a lot in common. Moore repeatedly went up against the political establishment, just like Trump. The candidate also disagrees with political correctness, as does Trump. Both Trump and Moore have all but declared war on the “liberal media.”
It’s no surprise then, that Trump and Moore get along, politically. Their bases align, as well. As Vice points out, one recent poll of Alabama voters showed Moore falling behind Jones, but also found that 29% of respondents became more likely to vote for him in the wake of the accusations.
Next: The final reason Trump loves Moore comes as no shock to anyone.
7. The two align in one horrifying way
As CNN reports, Trump repeatedly emphasizes that, despite the strength of the allegations, Moore denied all of them. That looks awfully close to the way Trump denied the accusations of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women during the course of the 2016 campaign.
“This is not something he’s struggling with,” one senior White House official told The Daily Beast. Trump backs some of Moore’s more ridiculous defenses, to no one’s surprise. Those include assertions that the “Roy Moore, D.A.” signature in the yearbook of one of his accusers must be a forgery. Both Moore and the president find the signature suspect. Experts, on the other hand, call results inconclusive.
Is it any wonder Trump endorsed Moore? Not if you know anything about the president. Whether that endorsement comes through or we see another Strange situation will come out at the voting booth.
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