Trump has weighed in on the West Virginia Senate race, in the most awkward way imaginable.
Republicans are worried that the candidacy of disgraced former mining tycoon Don Blankenship in West Virginia could cost them a shot at defeating Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin.
And Trump clearly agrees. Which is why he went to an incredibly awkward extreme to try to dissuade his supporters from voting for Blankenship in Tuesday’s primary.
To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
In other words, Trump wants his supporters to “remember” how he endorsed and personally campaigned on behalf of Roy Moore in Alabama, even after he was credibly accused of child molestation — and how Moore went on to lose to Democrat Doug Jones in what should have been one of the easiest GOP Senate races imaginable.
And for all of Trump’s determination to avoid a rerun of Alabama, he seems to have learned little from that humiliating experience.
For one thing, just as with Moore, Trump does not offer any moral or ideological objection to Blankenship. He does not mention Blankenship’s unabashed racism. Or his attacks on fellow Republicans. Or the fact that Blankenship served a year in prison for conspiring to violate safety standards at a mine where 29 of his workers were killed.
Trump’s only only stated objection to Blankenship is that he “can’t win.”
But it would be difficult for Trump to make an intellectually consistent case to his supporters against Blankenship on merit, since Blankenship is in many respects simply mimicking Trump’s own political style.
And if Trump wants to dissuade West Virginia Republicans from backing Blankenship, his tweet is a terrible way to do it.
As New York Times reporter Alex Burns notes, by failing to endorse one or the other of Blankenship’s primary opponents, and urging people to vote for Rep. Evan Jenkins or state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Trump is essentially encouraging voters to split the anti-Blankenship vote. That would make it more likely that Blankenship wins the nomination, as some last-minute polling suggests he might do.
Trump may want voters to remember Alabama. But he seems unaware that Alabama is a cautionary tale of his own incompetence and lack of morals. And if this tweet is any indication, those same qualities could cost Trump this race as well.