President Donald Trump can complain about the entrenched GOP establishment all he wants– but his actions don’t back his bluster. In Alabama, he just endorsed the establishment-favored candidate in a key Senate race over a battle tested defender of conservatism.
Trump on Tuesday night weighed in on the Alabama Senate race that’s shaking out as a contest between three leading contenders: GOP establishment-favored candidate and appointed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, Congressman Mo Brooks, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
At about the same time Trump sent the following tweet, I was at a dinner in Fairview, Ala., where Moore was speaking to members of Bama Carry, Inc., a statewide organization which bills itself as Alabama’s “only no-compromise gun rights group.”
Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
His message on the 2nd Amendment was spot on and direct: It shall not be infringed. Like many of his fellow Alabamians, gun ownership and responsibility is a part of life for Moore. In fact, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, also present at the event, regaled the crowd with a tale about an experience he had at another campaign stop alongside the candidate.
“I’ve never seen someone say so much by saying so little as Judge Moore did that day,” Merrill said of the judge’s answer to a constituent question involving 2nd Amendment rights.
“He didn’t say a single word after the question was asked,” Merrill went on. “He just reached into his coat and removed his concealed carry for the crowd to see.”
And the candidate’s statements on the right to keep and bear arms were extremely well-received by the packed room of 2nd Amendment supporters present Tuesday evening. He doesn’t believe in watering down the right to bear arms with burdensome restrictions nor taxing the right via permit schemes.
But Moore didn’t dwell on the issue despite the sympathetic audience. He had far more on his mind than threats to the right to keep and bear arms– and for good reason.
Moore and fellow top contender, Brooks, are currently on the receiving end of attacks funded in part by generous allocations from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allies like the National Republican Senate Leadership Committee (NRSCL) and Senate Leadership Fund.
The pro-Strange attack ads have a fairly cohesive message with regard to Brooks: He failed to adequately support President Donald Trump during the 2016 election— and his prior skepticism would make him only a fair-weather friend to the administration as senator once real swamp-draining commences.
Brooks has fired back, noting in one response ad donations to the Trump effort and a voting record that is “95 percent” in line with the Trump agenda.
But the Strange-linked attacks on Moore are a little murkier. One in particular, the work of the McConnell-controlled NRSLC, raised eyebrows throughout the Alabama conservative political sphere upon its release last week.
The spot ridicules Moore and his wife, Kayla, as government double-dippers who abused funds from their charity, The Foundation for Moral Law, to enjoy lavish travel while the candidate was still on the government’s payroll as a judge.
“Despite being one of the highest paid judge’s in the nation … Roy Moore wanted more,” the ad charges. “So, Roy and his wife took over $1 million form a charity they ran, paying themselves $1 million and spending even more on travel—a private jet.”
At best, the ad is misleading.
Just one day after it hit the airwaves, Alabama Political Reporter’s Brandon Moseley poked the following holes in the McConnell establishment’s attack on Moore: “The ad does not make it clear that [the charity expenditures occurred] between 2005 and 2013. The ads do not also explain that the jets was [sic] for one trip to Pensacola and the travel expenses $140,582 and spread out between 2003 and 2014. The ad also indicates that Moore was a judge during this entire period, which was not true because he had been removed from the court and this was Moore’s primary income source for much of this period of time.”
That the Senate leadership would foist an ad so easily given to reasoned criticism to attack Moore says far more about his strengths with Alabama voters than anything they were attempting to convey about his character as a public official.
For Alabama conservatives, Moore is by far the best choice in the race. Readers may remember him for the national stir he caused during his first stint as Alabama Chief Justice. That’s when nearly two decades ago he refused to obey federal court orders to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building. Despite overwhelming support from Alabama conservatives, he was booted from office over the issue in 2003.
Or perhaps you remember Moore from his second time as Alabama’s top judge. Despite the government removing him for standing up for what he believed and being “wrong” years earlier, Alabama voters showed their appreciation for his effort to protect their values by sending him back to the court in 2012.
As he attempted to preserve Alabama laws blocking gay marriage amid the Obama administration’s massive push to promote LGBT everything, Moore again found himself on the wrong side of ethics complaints. In September 2016, he was suspended from his position without pay.
You may or may not agree with Moore’s positions. But two things are undeniable about his efforts to defend them: The majority of his voters, the people he felt beholden to as an elected official, did; and, despite knowing the likely outcome of his refusal to back down, he never wavered.
If that’s the attitude he plans to take to the Senate, there isn’t a conservative in the country who shouldn’t want him there.
Many Alabama conservatives would quickly note that congressional Republicans so given to rolling over to leftist demands as McConnell aren’t exactly in a position to question Moore’s political fortitude. He was, after all, removed from office for standing on principle and then re-elected by Alabama voters delighted by his efforts to block what so many conservatives in the state considered government attacks on their most important beliefs.
Compare that to the GOP establishment which currently holds control inside the Beltway — the same one that can’t manage to produce a victory for conservatives on healthcare legislation already passed under the previous administration. Why? Because they fear what the fallout will mean for their political futures.
Oddly enough, after backing McConnell’s man for Senate on Tuesday, Trump blasted this out via Twitter on Wednesday as I wrote this piece:
Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
If you don’t like the limp-noodle establishment, Mr. President, why the hell are you helping them get another yes-man in Washington to stall your agenda?
Moore’s message is no-nonsense and, like the organization that invited him Tuesday, “no-compromise” conservatism and the Constitution. And that’s exactly why the establishment can’t stand him. His election would mean headaches for disingenuous Republicans whose ability to stomach the idea of holding out for promises to conservative voters is far weaker than anything Moore has already demonstrated at the state level in Alabama.
If elected, the candidate said, he will likely find himself routinely aligned with conservatives like Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee— the two are lawmakers regular readers of Washington political news quickly recognize as routine conservative flies in the establishment GOP ointment.
But it’s not because he’s interested in obstruction, Moore told me. He wants to spend his time in the Senate doing everything he can to get the nation back to its conservative constitutional core.
According to the candidate, that means limiting the power of judges to legislate from the bench, restoring Congress’ role in the declaration of war, eliminating as many bureaucratic regulations as possible, pushing for tax reform that brings the nation as close to a Fair Tax as possible, and moving away from standards of political correctness that distract from all of the above.
It is a message voters present Tuesday were happy to entertain. Applause was spirited and routine throughout Moore’s address.
And that appears to be the case throughout the rest of the state as well— current polling suggests an increasing likelihood that Moore and Brooks will be the two names Alabamians see on a run-off ballot. JCM Analytics this week reported that 30 percent of respondents to a poll of likely Alabama voters said they plan to throw in with Moore. That’s compared to 22 percent for Strange and 19 percent for Brooks, a “statistical tie” JCM said.
For Moore and his supporters, healthy statewide support isn’t all that surprising. Strange can call Brooks out for a lack of adulation for the 2016 Trump campaign. And his Washington allies can attempt to portray Moore as a man getting rich the political way. But the Moore crowd is quick to point out that it’s a tough sell for a candidate (Strange) who was appointed by a disgraced governor he was supposed to investigate and is currently fully backed by a Washington establishment that thrives in the very swamp the “outsider” president was talking about draining.
“If America is going to be great again,” Moore said. “It has to be good again first.”
As he sees it, anything favored by the Washington political establishment isn’t going to make the country good.
And I don’t think many regular folks would disagree.
“We need to get back to things we’ve gotten a long way away from in Washington these days, starting with God and the Constitution,” Moore said.
The post Somewhere in Alabama, Donald Trump took a wrong turn on conservatism appeared first on Personal Liberty®.