Senator Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore faced off tonight in the only debate before the runoff election for the GOP nomination next Tuesday to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.
The debate – held without a moderator – focused largely on who would best support and advocate for President Trump’s agenda in the U.S. Senate.
Strange made no secret that he is endorsed by President Trump, and talked about his “close personal friendship” to a president that is broadly popular among Alabamans.
Moore, the twice-removed former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, tried to paint Strange – who worked as a lobbyist in the nation’s capital for many years – as a D.C. insider, and a creature of the “swamp.”
President Trump is set to visit the state tomorrow and will hold a rally in support of Strange.
Here are five moments that mattered in tonight’s fiery debate.
Who’s Trump’s Man?
“The first question is, who does the president support?” Strange said in his opening remarks, “The president supports me.”
Right off the bat, Strange endeared himself to the man in the Oval Office, heaping praise on him and talking up their shared background, in a moment that set the tone for how Strange approached the debate.
“We’ve developed a close personal friendship. We both come from the same background, the same mission, the same motivation. To make this country great again,” Strange said.
Moore instead chose to frame the race as a battle between the outsiders and the Washington elite.
“Will an elitist Washington establishment with unlimited millions of dollars, and special money be able to control the people of Alabama?” Moore asked, “Will false, malicious radio, TV and internet advertising take the place of honest and open debate in our political arena? I think not.”
‘Manipulated’ by McConnell
Moore, who expressed support for numerous Trump administration policies like the border wall and a ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military, said that Trump’s support of Strange was a result of influence from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is supporting the incumbent’s campaign.
“The problem is President Trump’s being cut off in his office. He’s being…