Trump endorses Strange in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary

Vice President Mike Pence stands with newly-sworn Alabama Republican Sen. Luther Strange, left, who replaces outgoing Sen. Jeff Sessions, during a ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. The 63-year-old Strange, sometimes called 'Big Luther' because of his height, will serve until an election is held to fill the seat for the remainder of Sessions' term, when ends in January of 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed Alabama Sen. Luther Strange as Strange goes into a contentious GOP primary election next week.

Trump took to Twitter to throw his support to the Republican senator who is trying to hold on to the Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The presidential endorsement comes as some polls have suggested that Strange is in a tight race with former state chief justice Roy Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

“Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!” Trump wrote.

The endorsement is a welcome boost for the Strange campaign as all of the top Republican contenders in the Aug. 15 primary have openly tried to woo Trump voters in the state where Trump continues to enjoy heavy popularity.

“President Trump’s election and hard work has given millions of people hope again and I’m proud to stand beside him to make America great again,” Strange said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“Mr. President, what an honor. Thank you so much for your support and confidence. Proud to work with you,” Strange responded on his Twitter account.

Strange was appointed to the post in February by the state’s then governor. He is backed by a super political action committee tied to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that has spent heavily on advertising to try to fend off the slate of firebrand challengers in the red state.

Strange earlier this summer called Trump’s election nothing short of a “miracle.”

“President Trump is the greatest thing that has happened to this country. I consider it a biblical miracle that he’s there,” Strange told a crowd this summer.

Moore and Brooks have both criticized Strange for the heavy support from McConnell and have disparaged Strange as the candidate of the Washington “swamp” establishment.

Brooks has named his campaign bus the “Drain the Swamp Express” and argued that he is the one with the true conservative record that is aligned with Trump.

Moore, who was twice removed from duties as chief justice for defying courts on gay marriage and the public display of the Ten Commandments, is particularly considered a tough competitor for Strange in the GOP primary because of his heavy support from evangelical voters.

“We’ve got people up there that don’t want change despite the fact in November 2016 the people of this country voted for change,” Moore told a gathering Tuesday.