Presidential endorsements of Senate hopefuls can often make the difference between a candidate winning and losing the election — though that wasn’t the case in Alabama this week.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence publicly supported Republican Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s senate runoff over the past few weeks, and campaigned on Luther’s behalf. But when Strange lost the election, all evidence of this vanished.
The race in Alabama didn’t seem like it would be politically important, but the candidates represent a larger schism in modern GOP politics. Strange started his term as senator by filling the vacant seat left by Jeff Sessions’ appointment to attorney general. Trump and Strange had a close relationship, and the president even called him “Big Luther.”
Big Luther was the GOP-favored candidate in Alabama, a red state that usually voted along party lines while Sessions was senator. The Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, or political action committee, aligned with GOP majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spent over $700,000 to support Luther.
But Moore, the eventual victor, is an anti-establishment, evangelical Christian candidate who faced over $2.5 million in negative ads aired by the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC. Moore was dismissed from the Alabama Supreme Court for famously refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from a courthouse, and in 2015 still believed that former President Obama is “secret Muslim.”
Luther’s loss isn’t just a loss for himself — it’s a serious loss for Trump and McConnell as well. The GOP, in essence, lost to their voting base, and the division between the two has never been more apparent.
Trump, who ran as an outsider himself, publicly supported an establishment candidate. McConnell, the face of the GOP, supported the same candidate. The people of Alabama, however, voted for the outsider — and this rejection of establishment Republican candidates may happen all across the country in the upcoming midterm elections.
Beside the political implications of Moore’s victory, Trump’s decision to distance himself from the loser is cause for concern. Some think that deleting tweets could be a violation of the Presidential Records Act, which was passed after the Watergate scandal to ensure all communications to and from the President and their staff is archived.
Not only may this be illegal, but Trump’s revisionist history is morally problematic. Our president can make no claim to authority if he continues to destroy his own integrity — which he does with each tweet he deletes and each campaign promise he fails to fulfill.
As part of The Pitt News’ commitment to journalistic integrity, we file corrections and admit when we’re wrong — not erase all evidence of our blunder. But in this case, we think Trump should be held to an even higher standard of presidential integrity.