EXCLUSIVE — Rep. Mo Brooks is showcasing his support for former President Trump and targeting Democrats as he jumps into the race to succeed retiring longtime Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
Brooks repeatedly labeled Democrats “socialists” as he declared his candidacy at a campaign event Monday evening.
And in an exclusive interview with Fox News, the congressman emphasized that he has “a very good relationship” with President Trump.
“I have stood by his side during two impeachment hoaxes, during the Russian collusion hoax, and in the fight for honest and accurate elections,” Brooks said. “The president knows that. The voters of Alabama know that, and they appreciate it.”
The six-term representative, who was first elected in 2010 to Alabama’s 5th Congressional District in the northern tier of the state, formally launched his campaign at a Huntsville gun range, walking to the podium to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic hit “Sweet Home Alabama.”
He was accompanied by Stephen Miller, a top adviser to Trump during his tenure in the White House and the architect of the Trump administration’s hard line on illegal immigration.
Miller told Fox News: “I can tell you from first-hand experience that the White House and the president considered Mo an invaluable ally during the entirety of the Trump administration, and that Mo has been an unyielding fighter on behalf of President Trump and the Trump agenda and the values that we all share.”
Miller, a congressional aide with former Rep. John Shadegg of Alabama and later former Sen. Jeff Sessions, spotlighted that, “since I left the White House, Mo is the first candidate that I’ve endorsed for office.”
Brooks was one of the first Trump loyalists to publicly declare he’d object to certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election. Brooks delivered fiery remarks at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on the morning of Jan. 6. The congressman told Trump supporters at the large rally that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
Soon after the rally concluded, right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, as they attempted to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Five deaths occurred related to the insurrection — including a Capitol police officer — scores were injured, and the Capitol was vandalized.
Brooks told Fox News that he had spoken with Trump ahead of his Senate announcement but declined to discuss the conversation
“One never knows what President Trump is going to do until he announces it, and heaven forbid that I would be the one in advance who would try to preempt his announcement of whatever decision is going to make,” Brooks said.
An endorsement of Brooks by the former president could possibly be the icing on the cake in a state that Trump won by 26 points last November. But the 66-year old Brooks isn’t the only Republican in the race who’s hoping to receive the former president’s blessing.
Alabama businesswoman Lynda Blanchard, who served as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia during the final two years of the Trump administration, is also touting her credentials as an ally of the former president.
While her name ID in the state is much lower than Brooks’, she has the ability to self-finance her campaign. Blanchard, who along with her husband contributed nearly $2 million to Trump’s two presidential runs, said she was making an initial $5 million deposit in her Senate campaign committee when she announced her candidacy last month.
The Blanchards — co-founders of the Montgomery-based real estate investment company B&M Management — were at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last week for a fundraiser. Trump briefly showed up and took a photo with them. But the former president is staying neutral for now in the burgeoning GOP primary.
Other potential Republican candidates include Shelby’s former chief of staff, Katie Boyd Britt, who currently serves as the CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who suspended his 2020 Senate campaign when former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions jumped in the race.
More than two months removed from the White House, Trump is still incredibly popular with Republican voters, and his clout over GOP politicians remains immense. The former president touted in a podcast Monday that his endorsement in a GOP primary “has meant the difference between a victory and a massive defeat.”
But his track record in the very red state of Alabama – where winning the GOP primary is often the highest hurdle for Republican candidates – isn’t perfect.
In the state’s 2017 GOP Senate primary, Trump backed Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed after Sessions stepped down after he was confirmed by the Senate as attorney general. After Judge Roy Moore defeated Strange in the primary, Trump endorsed the controversial Moore, who was upset in the general election by Democrat Doug Jones.
Last year, Trump slammed Sessions – whom he blamed as attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation that led to his first impeachment – as Sessions ran to return to the Senate. Trump endorsed former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, who crushed Sessions in the Republican primary runoff before easily downing Jones in the general election.
Brooks came in third in the 2017 Alabama Senate primary. Then-Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell backed Strange in the showdown, and Brooks took aim at the powerful Senate GOP leader, arguing for McConnell’s ouster and calling him the “head of the swamp.”
Asked Monday by Fox News if would he support McConnell to remain as the party’s leader in the chamber if he were elected to the Senate, Brooks simply said, “I will vote for the most conservative senator running.”