Trump deletes tweets and hopes for an Alabama reset after his candidate loses

In the lead-up to the Alabama Senate Republican primary on Tuesday, President Trump was especially vocal on Twitter in supporting his chosen candidate, Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s seat.

So it was conspicuous when Trump deleted three tweets touting Strange shortly after the incumbent’s loss to Roy Moore, a former judge with no shortage of caustic and controversial statements. Trump rarely deletes even his most controversial or demonstrably false missives unless they contain typos. (Sometimes even typos aren’t enough to expunge a tweet.)

ProPublica archived the deleted tweets, which included a claim that Strange was “shooting up” in the polls because of the president’s endorsement. Several earlier supportive tweets remain.

Screengrab of deleted tweets from Donald Trump. (Via ProPublica, https://www.propublica.org/)

At a rally for Strange on Friday, Trump confessed he “might have made a mistake” by throwing his support behind the candidate. He also bluntly said that if Moore emerged the victor, “I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him.”

Shortly after Moore won, Trump indeed pivoted to full-throated support for a “really great guy” whom he encouraged to “WIN” the general election against Democratic nominee Doug Jones in December.



Vice President Mike Pence, who held a rally for Strange on Monday, also dutifully endorsed Moore and praised him for running “on the #MAGA agenda.”


Trump previously said a Moore victory would put the general election in doubt.

“I don’t know that much about Roy Moore,” he told an Alabama radio show Monday. “Roy Moore is going to have a very hard time getting elected against the Democrat.”

Moore is a hard-line right-wing evangelical with a propensity for making outrageous statements. Many key figures in the Trump coalition, including former White House adviser Steve Bannon, had thrown their support to the firebrand.

As a judge on the 16th Circuit Court, he hung a plaque engraved with the Ten Commandments in the courtroom and began the practice of pre-court-proceedings prayers. After he was elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000, he went a step further, commissioning a 5,280-pound granite monument engraved with the Ten Commandments to be installed in the court building. When he refused to have the statue removed, defying a court order in the process, he was removed instead.

He won the chief justice seat again in 2012, and more controversy followed. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, Moore nevertheless ordered state judges to continue to enforce Alabama’s ban. He was suspended for the remainder of his term and resigned.

Moore has been vocal about his antigay beliefs, comparing same-sex relationships to bestiality and contending that homosexuality should be outlawed.

Like Trump, who popularized the “birther” movement, Moore has also questioned whether former President Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen.

As recently as 2016, according to CNN, Moore said his “personal belief is that [Obama] wasn’t” a natural-born citizen.

He has also espoused anti-Islam views. At a campaign event in July, he called it a “false religion” at odds with the First Amendment. In August he told a reporter, “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country.” Pressed on that point, for which there is no evidence, he was unable to say what communities he was referring to.

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