Over the years, many a prominent politician has said, to paraphrase, “I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I can count votes.”
Such is the case with President Donald Trump, and it may be the bottom line reason he has decided to openly endorse Judge Roy Moore for the United States Senate.
While politicians from both sides of the aisle have been falling all over to distance themselves from, or flat out reject the Moore candidacy, Trump is in fact, truthful and pragmatic.
Let’s first take a look at what is obvious.
Republicans hold a razor-thin and what is at best tenuous 52-48 vote majority in the Senate. On at least half a dozen occasions, Vice President Pence has had to cast the tie-breaking vote on matters in a house controlled by his own party.
On several occasions, votes on matters involving a split Republican caucus vs. a united, against anything Trump, Democratic caucus has prevented votes from even coming to the floor.
So, I’m President Trump and what do I do?
Well first, he goes in with the political “advantage” of simply not caring what people think.
Senators and members of Congress are pretty much concerned with one thing--re-election. How is this or that going to look? Trump clearly doesn’t care. Roy Moore is a badly needed vote. That’s all that matters to him, and the optics are not important.
Trump needs Moore’s vote. That’s all he cares about. It could be Roy Moore or Joe Blow... it’s a vote.
First, remember, in the special election primary, Trump endorsed, and campaigned in person for Moore’s opponent, Senator Luther Strange. Second, when listening to Trump’s endorsement comments for Moore, they are framed in the “I need his vote” context.
There is no, “Roy’s a great guy and will be a wonderful addition to the U.S. Senate,” stuff one usually hears in a presidential endorsement.
“I need his vote and we can’t have the Democrat there to take that vote away.” That’s it.
The fact that Trump never set foot in Alabama on Moore’s behalf is telling as well.
Let’s look at Trump’s choices and how “Art of the Deal” comes into play.
Option one, Senator Strange or another prominent Alabama Republican runs as a write-in. Yeah, good idea. Split the Republican vote to the extent voters even understand write ins, and elect Democrat Doug Jones.
For purposes of vote counting, that’s a non-starter.
Option two, emulate Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake and endorse the candidacy of Democrat Doug Jones because he’s not Roy Moore. See option one.
Option Three, endorse Moore, couched in the vote I need, and if Moore is elected, let things run their course.
Run their course? Well, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said if Moore is elected, he would seek to get him expelled. Trump sits and thinks, "OK, I’m good with that."
In the meantime, I have his vote and if he’s expelled, we get rid of a “Republican problem,” AND, GOP Governor Kay Ivey will appoint another Republican to take his place.
At the end of the day, Trump gets all he really cares about -- a Senate vote.
If Moore is guilty of what he’s accused of, he’s gone and an ugly chapter is closed -- at least in this case. Trump will have effectively engineered his ouster while holding onto the vote.
Not pretty, but effective.