Trump rescinds Brooks’ endorsement in Alabama Senate race
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday rescinded his support for U.S. Representative Mo Brooks in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary, dealing a blow to the congressman’s campaign.
In a statement, Trump cited Brooks’ lackluster performance in the race and his attempt to move Republicans past Trump’s false 2020 voter fraud allegations. The former president said he would make another endorsement in a “near future”.
“Very sad but, since he decided to go in another direction, so have I, and I hereby withdraw my endorsement of Mo Brooks for the Senate,” Trump said.
Brooks replied that he hadn’t changed at all and he accused Trump of letting him down for pushing back on the former president’s pleas – as recently as last week – to help overturn the election of 2020.
“He wanted the election canceled and redone,” Brooks told reporters in Alabama. “But there’s no legal way to do it.”
Trump has been frustrated for months because Brooks failed to gain ground in the May 24 primary and trailed in the polls. By withdrawing the endorsement, Trump sought to avoid the embarrassment of backing a losing candidate in a high-profile race. Trump, who often boasts about his approval record, sees it as a reflection of his power within the Republican Party as he mulls another presidential election in 2024.
Trump’s picks have struggled in other races as well.
The Senate candidate he originally endorsed in Pennsylvania, Sean Parnell, has dropped out amid allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. In North Carolina, Trump’s Senate pick, Rep. Ted Budd, failed to make a splash. In Georgia, former Sen. David Perdue is trailing Gov. Brian Kemp, a top Trump target in 2022, in the gubernatorial primary campaign.
Trump first endorsed Brooks last April, more than a year before the Alabama primary, rewarding the conservative firebrand who stoked a crowd of Trump supporters at the January 6, 2021 rally that preceded the insurgency of the US Capitol.
Brooks has since found himself in a tough race with two formidable adversaries: Katie Britt, the former head of a state affairs group, and Mike Durant, a businessman best known as the helicopter pilot. shot down and held prisoner during the 1993 ‘Operation Black Hawk Down’ incident.
The GOP primary in the conservative state will likely decide who succeeds GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, who is retiring. Britt previously served as Shelby’s chief of staff.
Brooks, who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s victory, said in a statement that he knew he could lose Trump’s endorsement by saying the 2020 election could not be voided.
“President Trump has asked me to cancel the 2020 election, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately return President Trump to the White House, and call a new special election for the presidency. As a lawyer, I repeatedly informed President Trump that January 6 was the final verdict of the electoral contest and that neither the United States Constitution nor the United States Code allowed President Trump to asked. Period,” Brooks said Wednesday at town hall at a restaurant in Hueytown, Alabama.
“I told President Trump the truth knowing full well that it might cause President Trump to rescind his endorsement. But I was sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. I honor my oath, ”he said, drawing applause from the twenty or so people gathered.
He told reporters that Trump talked about having the election overturned in conversations with him as recently as last week, during the last conversation between the two.
At the “Stop the Steal” rally before the storming of the Capitol, Brooks spoke in inflammatory language, telling the crowd that “Today is the day American patriots start taking names and to kick…”.
Trump on Wednesday accused Brooks, one of the most conservative members of Congress, of “waking up” for saying at a rally in August that it was time to move on from the 2020 presidential race and stand focus on the upcoming elections.
“When I heard his statement, I said, ‘Mo, you just messed up the election, and there’s nothing you can do about it,'” Trump said.
The six-term congressman laughed at the characterization.
“Anyone with a brain the size of a pea or more in the state of Alabama knows that Mo Brooks can be many things, but wide-awake or liberal is not them,” he said.
Trump had not told her in advance that he would withdraw the endorsement, Brooks said.
“If it had been me, I would have called someone to give them a whim. I think that’s the gentlemanly thing to do. But it’s me, he said.
Trump told the Washington Examiner last week that he was disappointed with Brooks’ performance and was considering backing another candidate because he said Brooks had “changed.”
“It’s a very close race between the three of them at the moment, and I’m not particularly happy,” he told the newspaper.
Trump invited Britt and her husband, Wesley Britt, a former New England Patriots lineman, to meet him at his Palm Beach, Fla. estate last month, according to a person familiar with the visit but not allowed to talk about it. this publicly. Trump also met Durant in Florida on Monday, according to another person who spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the private meeting.
Both Britt and Durant have a cash advantage over Brooks. Britt has raised nearly $5 million. Durant loaned his campaign $4 million, while Brooks brought in $2.1 million in contributions.
Brooks relied heavily on his Trump connection throughout the race. His campaign signs refer to him as “MAGA Mo” in reference to the former president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. He appeared with a life-size poster of him and Trump at a recent campaign stop.
By Wednesday, however, the poster was gone.
While Trump’s withdrawal of endorsement is a major loss for Brooks’ campaign, the former president’s support hasn’t always guaranteed success in Alabama.
In 2017, Trump endorsed Luther Strange in the GOP primary for Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, but Strange lost to Roy Moore. In the general election, Trump backed Moore, who disputed the sexual misconduct allegations and lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
Mark S. Lemsky, a 66-year-old retiree who attended the Brooks town hall on Wednesday, said he was staying with the congressman despite Trump’s rescinding of his endorsement.
“I will vote for Trump when it is time (for me) to pull the lever, and I will vote for Mo on May 24,” he said, explaining that, of all the candidates, the Democrats seemed the most opposed to Brooks.
“If the enemy hates this guy, there’s my guy,” Lemsky, of Oak Grove, said.
As for Trump’s decision? “I thought Trump was wrong when he fired Jeff Sessions. I thought he was wrong when he took his endorsement away from Mo,” he said. present again.”
Colvin reported from New York.
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