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Trump yanks endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Brooks, who said to get past 2020

Former President Donald Trump welcomes Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a candidate for U.S. Senate, to the stage during a rally in Cullman, Ala., on Aug. 21, 2021. Trump on Wednesday pulled his endorsement of Brooks, who's been struggling in polls.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump welcomes Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a candidate for U.S. Senate, to the stage during a rally in Cullman, Ala., on Aug. 21, 2021. Trump on Wednesday pulled his endorsement of Brooks, who's been struggling in polls.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has been a staunch pro-Donald Trump voice in Congress and on the campaign trail. Brooks was even a featured speaker at the "Stop the Steal" rally by the National Mall before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

All of that is what earned him Trump's endorsement last year in the 2022 Alabama Republican U.S. Senate primary.

But there is one simple truth when it comes to the former president's political support: Donald Trump giveth, and Donald Trump can taketh away.

That's what Brooks — who, despite the endorsement, had been struggling in polls of the race — learned Wednesday, when Trump withdrew his support.

The reason Trump gave for his break with Brooks is a fundamental difference the two Republicans have over the 2020 election. Both believe the election was stolen, despite all evidence to the contrary, including dozens of court rulings and recounts.

But Brooks says it's time to focus instead on doing what it takes to win in 2022 and 2024. He said as much back in August, while appearing at a Trump rally in Alabama. The congressman was booed for those remarks.

"Mo Brooks of Alabama made a horrible mistake recently when he went 'woke' and stated, referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, 'Put that behind you, put that behind you,' despite the fact that the Election was rife with fraud and irregularities," Trump said in his statement Wednesday revoking the endorsement.

Trump added that Brooks erred by hiring new campaign aides who "convinced him to 'stop talking about the 2020 Election.' "

Of course, there's another possible reason for Trump's action. Brooks is lagging in surveys, so Trump may be seeking to save face, and to avoid being associated with a losing campaign.

All of this played out just a day after a new poll in Alabama showed Brooks in a distant third place in the contest. The leader is retired Army veteran Mike Durant, with Katie Britt — a former chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby, whose coming retirement is opening up the seat — in second place.

For Brooks, it's a steep fall from a similar poll last August, also conducted by Alabama Daily News and Gray Television. In that earlier survey, Brooks was in first place with a wide lead over the entire field.

In a statement on the withdrawn Trump endorsement, Brooks said he's not changed.

"I am the only proven America First candidate in this Senate race," he said. "I am the only candidate who fought voter fraud and election theft when it counted, between November 3 and January 6." The statement repeated his August rally assertion that the focus needs to be on this year's midterms and on the next presidential election.

Brooks also claims Trump made impossible requests of him:

"President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency. As a lawyer, I've repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period."

Brooks also blames his campaign's troubles on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Brooks has been critical of McConnell in the past, and accuses the GOP leader and his allies of working to defeat him because they don't want him in the Senate.

Brooks, without evidence, says Trump has now been "manipulated" by McConnell.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.