Before departing for his Thanksgiving vacation last week, President Trump teased a possible campaign visit for Roy Moore in Alabama. “I'll be letting you know next week,” he said. Trump's comments were noncommittal, but they were a marked shift from previous White House assurances that Trump wasn't going. And Trump seemed to be hinting he'd actually have something newsworthy to say.
Alas, it wasn't to be. The Associated Press is reporting that Trump won't visit Alabama for Moore ahead of the Dec. 12 special election.
But this decision is weird for another reason entirely, and that's the fact that Trump has already effectively endorsed Moore. In that same Q&A with reporters and then in some tweets over the weekend, Trump made it crystal clear that he supports Moore over Democrat Doug Jones. Trump has focused on Jones's liberalism rather than saying nice things about Moore, sure, but he's clearly saying he wants Moore to win.
His decision not to actually travel to Alabama for Moore, then, would seem to be a pretty rough commentary on Moore's chances. Trump campaigned in person for Moore's primary opponent, appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), after all, and he did robo-calls for Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor's race. In the latter case, Gillespie seemed to want to associate with Trump's policies, but not necessarily with the man himself.
In both cases, of course, the Trump-backed candidate lost. Which brings us to Moore. In effectively endorsing Moore, Trump is at risk of going 0-for-3 in the last three high-profile statewide races. Trump may want the credibility with the GOP base that comes with standing by Moore, but that decision also comes with a heaping dose of potential future embarrassment.