(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) — At his post-debate outdoor rally, Judge Roy Moore’s high-profile supporters sought to cast him simultaneously as an outsider and a candidate who will fulfill President Donald Trump’s agenda — not an easy task considering Trump has endorsed the establishment-backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange.
But former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave it a shot all the same.
“A vote for Judge Moore isn’t a vote against the president. It is a vote for the people’s agenda that elected the president,” Palin said to a cheering crowd at the Old Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery, Alabama.
The former vice presidential nominee ticked through the policy priorities on which the “establishment” has yet to deliver, including the “big, beautiful wall” and an Obamacare repeal.
But Palin blamed only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose name came up three times in her short speech. She didn’t mention Trump by name once.
Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former national security adviser, blamed McConnell as well. Gorka joined Palin; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Moore himself at the rally.
“You have a man in Judge Moore who has been endorsed by not just myself, but Steve Bannon, [Sean] Hannity, Laura Ingram, Gov. Palin — that should be enough,” Gorka said. “But just think: Who you have on the other hand? A man endorsed by Mitch McConnell — enough said.”
Together, Palin and Gorka mentioned McConnell four times — and Trump not at all.
Gorka also neglected to mention Strange was endorsed by Trump.
When Moore himself got onstage, he wasn’t as hard-hitting as his surrogates, but he did suggest a revision to the president’s signature slogan that put more emphasis on religion. Faith has been the foundation of Moore’s political reputation, beginning with his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument outside the courthouse where he once served as chief justice. Moore was removed from the position in November 2003 for that refusal.
“We can be great again, but the one thing politicians don’t talk about is how we’re gonna be good again,” he said. “And we can’t be good until the heart changes, and God is the author of that, so we’re gonna stand for one nation under God.”
His commitment to religion as the foundation of public service is one of the things many of Moore’s supporters mention when they explain why they are going to vote for him.
“I like his stance on critical issues that are going on today — the Ten Commandments, his convictions,” Montgomery native Jim Galluzzi told ABC News, wearing a “MAGA” hat and standing next to his American flag-emblazoned motorcycle with a big “Moore for Senate” sticker on it. “And he’s not politically correct — and I like the fact that he’s not politically correct.”
But some Moore supporters said they make a clear distinction between Trump’s endorsement of Strange and his ideological alignment with Moore.
“I think he probably got some bad information, mostly. I think if he got better information -– it was probably maybe a coin toss? I don’t know,” Galluzzi said of Trump’s decision to endorse Strange.
That doesn’t apply to all Moore supporters. One woman who didn’t want to go on camera said she was so fed up with Trump that she was just about ready to disavow him. Trump’s failures on his key agenda items so far had led her to support Moore.
While Palin elicited loud cheers from the rally crowd, that wasn’t the case for one name she mentioned in her speech — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man whom Moore and Strange are fighting to replace.
Sessions, Trump’s first Senate supporter, got virtually no applause.
“Alabama, remember it was here in 2015 that Sen. Sessions defied the political establishment when he put his support behind the long-shot candidate who promised to ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” Palin said. “It was here where Sessions declared, ‘This isn’t a campaign; this is a movement,’ and that movement grew. It grew and it roared and it rumbled — and it shocked the world in November.”
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