- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sen. Luther Strange said Thursday that President Trump’s upcoming visit to Alabama will be the game changer in his senatorial bid.

“I think this is going to be a ground game effort now. The polls are almost meaningless at this point. It’s who gets their voters out to the polls. To have the president and vice president say this is the guy we need in Washington because we can work with him. He’s effective. He understands how to get things done. I think that’s going to be the difference in this race, I really do,” Mr. Strange, Alabama Republican, said on Fox News.

Mr. Strange was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat when he was confirmed as attorney general. Mr. Strange is now running in the special election race for that seat and has received enthusiastic support from the president, despite some conservative groups backing his opponent former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.

The two candidates are set to face off at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) Thursday at the Alabama Activities Center in Montgomery in the only scheduled debate prior to next week’s election. The debate will not have a moderator or questions from the press, per Mr. Moore’s request, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Trump is at odds with the populist movement in the party who are backing Mr. Moore in the runoff primary race on Sept. 26. Former White House aides Stephen K. Bannon and Sebastian Gorka have backed Mr. Moore.

But Mr. Strange said that Mr. Trump’s support for him comes from a personal friendship and a knowledge that he will be loyal to the president.

“I respect his background, what he’s trying to do, the challenges he’s taking on, and I think he recognizes that in my background,” Mr. Strange said.

The race still looks close heading into next week’s election, with Mr. Moore having a near double-digit lead in some polls. Whichever candidate wins the Republican nomination will face Democratic candidate Doug Jones on Dec. 12, but in the Republican-dominated state, the Republican nominee is heavily favored to win the seat overall.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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