MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump told a news outlet that he is displeased with the performance of Rep. Mo Brooks, the candidate he endorsed for Alabama’s U.S. Senate race, and suggested he is open to backing another candidate.
“Mo Brooks is disappointing,” Trump told the Washington Examiner Tuesday, according to a report published Wednesday.
Trump has backed Brooks since last April, more than a year ahead of the upcoming May 24 primary, rewarding the conservative firebrand and ally who whipped up a crowd of Trump supporters at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the Capitol riot.
Brooks has since found himself in a primary battle with two formidable opponents: Katie Britt, the former head of a state business group, and Mike Durant, a businessman best known as the helicopter pilot shot down and held prisoner in the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident.
The Alabama Senate race will decide who replaces retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. Britt previously served as Shelby’s chief of staff.
“It’s a very tight race between the three of them right now, and I’m not particularly happy,” Trump told the Examiner, leaving the door open to backing another candidate.
Trump’s backing is a valuable campaign asset for Brooks in a state where Trump won 62% of the vote in the last presidential contest and remains deeply popular with Republicans. Any wavering by Trump would be seen as a blow to Brooks’ campaign.
Brooks has leaned heavily on the Trump connection. His campaign signs refer to him as “MAGA Mo” in reference to the former president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. He appeared with a life-size poster of Trump at one recent campaign stop.
The Brooks’ campaign on Wednesday put the blame on Britt.
“Here’s the deal: Katie Britt and her team put out a bogus poll, then lied to President Trump about it,” Brooks campaign spokesman Will Hampson said in a statement.
Trump told the Examiner that Brooks gave an “inarticulate answer” about remarks he had made during an August rally with Trump in Alabama that briefly resulted in jeers from the crowd.
Brooks had told the crowd it was time to move on from the last presidential race and focus on upcoming elections. The remark resulted in some rally-goers briefly booing.
Trump told the outlet that he wanted to know if Brooks had changed.
Hampson said Brooks remains committed to Trump and his position that the 2020 election was fraught with massive voter fraud and “stolen” by Joe Biden.
“Mo Brooks was the only one in this race to stand with him on January 6th,” Hampson wrote.
Trump and his allies have continued to cling to the false claims that the voting was rigged in the 2020 election, claims that have been thoroughly debunked.
The Alabama contest is not the only race where Trump’s pick has been struggling. The candidate Trump originally endorsed in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, Sean Parnell, dropped his candidacy amid allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. In North Carolina, his endorsed candidate for an open Senate seat, Rep. Ted Budd, has failed to make a splash. And in Georgia, his pick for governor, David Perdue, is trailing incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, one of Trump’s top 2022 targets.
Trump, who often brags about his endorsement record, has held back in several high-profile races, including contests in Ohio, Missouri and Arizona.