This may not have been the worst case scenario for President Donald Trump, but it's almost certainly not what he wanted either.
Following the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump had endorsed Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary on Tuesday, according to Politico. In order to become the Republican nominee right away, Strange needed to win at least 50 percent of the vote. He failed to do that, instead placing second after former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.
The good news for Trump was that, because Moore also didn't reach 50 percent, he and Strange will compete in a runoff election next month. The bad news is that it's still pretty embarrassing that an incumbent senator couldn't easily win his own party's primary despite the president's endorsement.
Moore — the ex-judge who became a right-wing hero for defying a court order to take down the Ten Commandments from his courthouse — showed why he's so popular in the state during an interview with Vox published hours before polls closed. In that interview, he said Sharia law was taking over, then showed a complete inability to back up his claim.
MOORE: There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities.
But Sharia law is a little different from American law. It is founded on religious concepts.
VOX: Which American communities are under Sharia law? When did they fall under Sharia law?
MOORE: Well, there’s Sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana — up there. I don't know.
VOX: That seems like an amazing claim for a Senate candidate to make.
MOORE: Well, let me just put it this way — if they are, they are; if they’re not, they’re not.
That doesn’t matter. Oklahoma tried passing a law restricting Sharia law, and it failed. Do you know about that?
Of course, Moore can't claim to be unbiased when it comes to how he views different religions. In the same interview, he quoted 19th century conservative Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story:
It was the duty to foster religion and foster Christianity. He said at the time of the adoption of the Constitution that "it was the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America that Christianity ought to be favored by the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience."
In short, Moore argued, "the First Amendment was established on Christian principles."
Moore remains the undisputed frontrunner to become Alabama's next senator. If nothing else, this demonstrates that Trump himself may be less potent than the far right-wing politics on which he has based his appeal.