President Trump late Monday tweeted his support for Sen. Luther Strange in the hotly contested Alabama Republican runoff for U.S. Senate, in a race that has pitted the president against his former strategist, Steve Bannon.
The runoff is set for Tuesday.
Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Strange in Birmingham while Bannon spoke at a Moore rally at the coast.
Taking the stage to prolonged applause, Bannon said Alabama can show the world “that this populist, nationalist, conservative movement is on the rise.”
“A vote for Roy Moore is a vote for Donald J. Trump,” Bannon said.
Bannon lashed out at negative ads funded by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bannon said Republican “elites” had put millions of dollars into the Alabama race “to destroy a man.”
“It’s very simple,” Bannon told Fox News’ “Hannity.” “This election is $30 million being spent by Mitch McConnell and that crew of corrupt and incompetent politicians and consultants. They raised $30 million in outside money to destroy Judge Moore.”
Bannon mentioned that conservative radio hosts Mark Levin, Laura Ingram and Michael Savage have all voice support for Moore.
Bannon, who was in Alabama during the interview, said he was not there to defy Trump, rather to support his agenda.
Wearing a white cowboy hat and a black leather vest, Moore repeated the conservative Christian themes that he has used his entire public career, quoting Bible passages and Colonial leaders at length.
“All of Washington is watching to see what Alabama does tomorrow,” Moore said.
Strange, Alabama’s former attorney general, was appointed to the seat previously held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February.
Moore is the state’s Alabama’s chief justice, but was twice removed from that office because of stands for the public display of the Ten Commandments and against gay marriage.
Propelled by his support from evangelical voters, Moore led Strange by about 25,000 votes in the crowded August primary and runoff polls have shown him leading, or in a dead heat with, Strange. Strange looked to help from the White House to try to avoid another second-place finish Tuesday
Trump, who held a rally Friday in Huntsville for Strange, continued his efforts Monday, calling a popular Alabama radio show to campaign.
Trump predicted that Moore, whom he mistakenly called “Ray,” would have a “hard time” in the December election against Democrat Doug Jones.
“Luther Strange is going to be a great senator. He already has, and he has already helped me,” Trump said on the “Rick & Bubba” radio show.
Walking into the humid hangar to hear Pence, 57-year-old Randy Beasley of Springville said he had been undecided in the race but was swayed to vote for Strange because of his backing from the National Rifle Association. Beasley said he also had concerns that the twice-ousted chief justice “might have more of a negative image for the state.”
Although Trump has endorsed Luther Strange, many in the crowd at the Moore rally wore Trump T-shirts or “Make America Great Again” hats.
Chu Green, 71, of Mobile said she arrived five hours early to snag a front row spot just feet from the speaker’s microphone. She held up a sign reading: “Mr. President and Mr. V.P. I love you but you are wrong! America needs Judge Moore.”
“It’s how I feel in my heart,” Green said. “I think (Trump) knows he made a mistake. He had an obligation to Strange.”