Trump holds rally with Luther Strange in Alabama — live updates

President Trump is spending his Friday night on stage in Huntsville, Alabama, to rally support for Luther Strange ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate. 

Mr. Trump has strongly endorsed Strange on Twitter in recent days, even though many high-profile, hard-right supporters of the president are backing Roy Moore, an ultra-conservative former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court. Mr. Trump will be campaigning for Strange on Monday in Alabama. 

But it’s unclear how much Mr. Trump’s endorsement — despite his claims that it’s giving Strange a big boost — matters, as it divides the Republican base. A new Fox News poll found Mr. Trump’s endorsement would only sway two out of 10 Republican voters. Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, it’s Moore who leads in the polls. Real Clear Politics’ polling average gives Moore a six-point advantage over Strange, though it should be noted that it’s very difficult to accurately poll a special election in Alabama. Moore led Strange in the initial round of voting for the Republican primary, but not by enough to avoid a runoff. Strange, facing an uphill battle, touted the president’s endorsement repeatedly in a debate against Moore Thursday night. 

Strange is technically an incumbent, having been appointed to the Senate earlier this year to replace now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was Alabama’s attorney general before his appointment to the Senate, and worked as a private practice lawyer before that.

Follow live updates below for the 8 p.m. rally. All times are Eastern.

9:13 p.m.: Trump: We are doing so many things with the VA

Trump said he won’t blame civil service, or the unions, for terrible conditions at Veterans Affairs. But now, he said, things are much better. 

9 p.m.: Trump says Russia “did not help me”

As investigations about Russian election meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign ramp up, calling the idea that Russia influenced the election a “hoax.” 

“Are there any Russians in the audience?” Mr. Trump said, adding that he didn’t see many.

8:56 p.m.: Trump praises the Electoral College

Mr. Trump said he won the election because the Electoral College is “very special.” The president talked about the states he won other than Alabama, including Pennsylvania and Florida.

8:52 p.m.:…

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