On Friday, Trump gave an odd, rambling speech, nominally in support of appointed Senator Luther Strange in the Alabama runoff. Jonathan Martin at NYT:
“If Luther doesn’t win, they’re not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time, they’re going say, ‘Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line,’” he predicted to 7,500 Alabamians at a rally on Friday night as Mr. Strange looked on.
His blurting out of his political stage directions was a vintage moment of Trumpian indiscretion. But it also had the benefit of being accurate. The contest between Mr. Strange and Roy Moore, a former State Supreme Court justice and evangelical firebrand, is the most significant test yet of the president’s power to sway the party’s conservative base.
...Moore was removed from the bench for defying a court order to take down the Ten Commandments from the State Supreme Court. In the past, he supported banning homosexual acts.
“If Roy Moore wins, Bannon and all the other of those people will pop out of the woodwork everywhere,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby, the veteran Alabama Republican, referring to the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who has taken a leading role against the preferred candidate of his former boss.
It is the sort of message that terrifies Republican elites, who fear he could be a more weaponized version of Todd Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate who lost after saying women’s bodies could block a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”
“Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot,” said Karl Rove, the Republican strategist, who is aligned with the Senate Leadership Fund. “Republicans will be asked, ‘Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God’s anger?’ He’ll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, ‘Do you agree with that?’”
“I think they’ll go after that seat,” Mr. Shelby said of the Democrats’ approach should Mr. Moore win on Tuesday. That is less likely if Mr. Strange captures the nomination, he said. “If Luther wins, he’s in.”
The Senate Democratic campaign arm has lined up a pollster to test Mr. Jones’s strengths and Mr. Moore’s vulnerabilities. And Alabama Democrats are openly rooting for the former judge.
“We want Roy Moore to win that primary,” said Patricia Todd, a Democratic state representative from Birmingham. “He gives us a better shot in the general election.”