President Trump spoke in Huntsville, Alabama tonight. He was trying to boost Sen. Luther Strange, who trails Judge Roy Moore in the Republican Senate primary that will take place next Tuesday.
The speech was well over an hour in length. I caught about an hour of it.
It was a powerful political speech reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 campaign trail orations. I found it entertaining.
Trump spent roughly 98 percent of this time touting himself — his 2016 victory, his accomplishments as president, etc. — and maybe 2 percent of his time talking about Sen. Strange, almost all of which consisted of praising Strange for backing him in the Senate.
Whether this approach was the product of vanity or calculation, I don’t know, but it made sense. If Strange wins, it will be because of Trump’s popularity, not his own. Time spent by Trump being Trump was time optimally spent from Strange’s perspective.
Trump made a point of saying that Strange doesn’t really know (or barely knows) Mitch McConnell. If true, this seems like a dereliction of duty by Strange. A state isn’t well-served by a Senator who hasn’t gotten to know his party’s leader in the Senate.
It probably isn’t true though. In any case, this remarkable claim obviously reflects the profound lack of popularity under which McConnell labors. Mitch who?
Trump put in a few good words for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose former seat is being contested in this race. He also called Roy Moore a good man, but questioned whether he can win the general election.
As I have noted, the polls show Strange well behind Moore. It’s likely that Strange is headed for defeat and Trump for a bit of embarrassment.
But having consistently underestimated Trump’s appeal to voters, and having heard his speech tonight, I’m not prepared to say with assurance that Moore will defeat Strange. Tuesday night sure will be interesting.