Former President Donald J. Trump retracted his endorsement of Representative Mo Brooks’s bid for Senate in Alabama on Wednesday, abandoning one of his staunchest allies after months of simmering frustration and as polls showed Mr. Brooks falling behind in the state’s Republican primary.
In a sign of Mr. Trump’s continued focus on the 2020 election, he cited Mr. Brooks’s remarks at a rally last summer urging voters to move on from Mr. Trump’s defeat.
“When I heard his statement, I said, ‘Mo, you just blew the Election, and there’s nothing you can do about it,’” Mr. Trump said in a statement on Wednesday. “Very sad but, since he decided to go in another direction, so have I.”
Mr. Trump said he would endorse another candidate in the near future. He has privately met with both of the other leading candidates: Katie Britt, a former top aide to Senator Richard Shelby, and Mike Durant, who was in one of the Black Hawk helicopters that were shot down in Somalia in 1993. Mr. Durant was in Mar-a-Lago for a meeting with Mr. Trump this week, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.
While Mr. Trump framed his decision to rescind his endorsement through his continued false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, the move appeared as much about preserving his political capital in 2022 and beyond.
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Mr. Brooks has struggled to raise money and has seen his support in the contest evaporate. Some private surveys had Mr. Brooks sagging to third place. Mr. Shelby recently told Politico that he planned to use his leftover campaign funds — as much as $6 million — to help Ms. Britt, a financial infusion that further narrowed Mr. Brooks’s pathway to victory.
The Trump endorsement has been so central to the Brooks candidacy that his official campaign logo included the fact that Mr. Trump had endorsed him.
In a last-ditch effort to keep Mr. Trump in his corner, Mr. Brooks, who spoke at the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021, used footage from that speech in a new television ad last week. Looking straight into the camera, Mr. Brooks said in the ad, “On January 6th, I proudly stood with President Trump in the fight against voter fraud.”
But it was not enough. Mr. Trump still accused him on Wednesday of going “woke.”
Mr. Trump is obsessed with the success rate of his endorsement in Republican primaries, and after issuing dozens of endorsements across the country in the last year, his power will be tested in a series of tough races. Alabama has long been seen as one of the places he was most vulnerable to defeat.
“When I endorsed Mo Brooks, he took a 44-point lead and was unstoppable,” Mr. Trump claimed.
Mr. Trump has seen his preferred candidate in Alabama defeated before. In 2017, he endorsed Senator Luther Strange, who was defeated by Roy S. Moore in a special election primary. Mr. Trump then endorsed Mr. Moore, who was defeated by Doug Jones, a Democrat. In 2020, Mr. Trump was more successful, backing Tommy Tuberville over the former president’s onetime attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Mr. Tuberville won in a landslide.
This Saturday, Mr. Trump will campaign in Georgia, where he is backing former Senator David Perdue’s challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp, who angered Mr. Trump by certifying the state’s 2020 election results.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Trump announced the endorsement of another Republican challenger in Georgia: John Gordon, who is running against the state’s attorney general, Chris Carr. Mr. Trump again cited the postelection period in 2020 and accused Mr. Carr of doing “absolutely nothing” to support the former president’s baseless claims of voter fraud.
Source: NY Times