(Getty/Mike Ehrmann)

Roy Moore's loss is exposing the Trump White House's greatest weakness

Following a historic loss in Alabama, the GOP and the White House look to cast the blame as they pick up the pieces


Charlie May
December 14, 2017 2:46PM (UTC)

As the fallout over the Alabama Senate race continues, the blame game is in full swing inside the White House as President Donald Trump has looked to find a scapegoat after his agenda was dealt a devastating blow with Roy Moore's loss.

Trump and the GOP have been left to pick up the pieces after the historic win by Democratic candidate Doug Jones on Tuesday night. The president threw his weight behind a disgraced Moore, as many Republicans were left without direction and torn between supporting an accused sexual predator or pleasing their boss.

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"This is the worst political operation in my lifetime in a White House, Republican or Democrat," A Republican close to the White House told CNN. "It's just a rudderless ship with no direction and no captain."

Trump has placed at least some of the blame for Moore's loss on his longtime ally and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, after he sold Trump a "a bill of goods" in his pressure to have the president support the historically controversial candidate, the Washington Post reported.

Leading up to Tuesday night, Trump initially groaned about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and expressed that he attempted to push out Moore prematurely, the Post reported.

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Republicans are all over the map on the issue, but some have been vocal about how dangerous Trump's endorsement of Moore and Bannon politics could be.

"This guy [Steve Bannon] does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk that wandered on to the national stage," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said, according to CNN. "He does not represent anything that I stand for. I consider myself a conservative Republican. I consider myself an Irish Catholic, and he sort of parades himself out there with his weird alt-right views that he has and to me it's demeaning the whole government and political process."

Publicly, however, Trump has not exactly lashed out — at least not in a way that meet his standards.

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The president congratulated Doug Jones, possibly looking to leave doors open for ways he can work together with Jones in the future, as he's expected to be a conservative Democrat. With a slim 51-49 majority, Senate Republicans will need all the help they can get to bolster Trump's agenda.

 

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In private, top advisers in the Trump White House have expressed concern over Trump's low poll numbers, and over the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, the Post reported. Trump also questioned if Tuesday night's results were a referendum on his presidency and if the candidate he initially begrudgingly endorsed, Sen. Luther Strange, could have defeated Jones.

"I won Alabama, and I would have won Alabama again," Trump said, according to a senior administration official, the Post reported.

The White House has deliberated improving its political operations, currently led by political director Bill Stepien, even before Moore's loss, the Post reported. Trump has questioned Stepien's ability and his "political instincts." The White House is looking to establish a "more sustained, more organized, more nuanced," strategy.

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Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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