Shortly after Democrat #Doug Jones wrested back one of Alabama’s solidly Republican U.S. Senate seats for the first time in more than two decades, President #Trump offered an optimistic and forward-looking assessment on Twitter, congratulating Jones on his “hard fought victory.”
But by Wednesday morning, as Trump watched the unflattering portrait of the loss unfold on television, the president grew piqued at the notion that he, somehow, was responsible.
“I won Alabama, and I would have won Alabama again,” Trump said, according to a senior administration official.
He told advisers that he didn’t want the results to be seen as a referendum on him and asked if he still had a solid base of support in the state. He also questioned Wednesday if he had made the right decision and if Sen. Luther Strange — the Republican he grudgingly endorsed who went on to lose the party’s primary — could have beaten Jones in the general election.
But inside the West Wing, Jones’s upset victory left some of Trump’s top advisers worried about both the 2018 midterm elections and the president’s low popularity, and accelerated an ongoing discussion about restructuring the White House political operation.
This portrait of the White House after the Alabama loss comes from 20 senior officials, aides, lawmakers, and outsider advisers and confidants, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a more candid assessment.
The president himself spread the blame. He faulted his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, for selling him what one outside adviser described as “a bill of goods” in urging him to support Roy Moore, and he faulted Moore himself for being an abysmal candidate.
In the lead-up to Tuesday night, he had also groused about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying he had been too aggressive in trying to push out Moore.