During the 2016 GOP presidential primary, Congressman Mo Brooks called then-candidate Donald Trump a “serial adulterer,” only offering tepid support for him in the general election.
Brooks, now in the middle of a contentious Republican primary for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions – a key supporter of the president – could struggle because of those attacks on Trump, who won Alabama by nearly 30 points.
In the past, Alabama Republicans have turned on GOP lawmakers they see as anti-Trump.
Brooks, who is looking to defeat incumbent Sen. Luther Strange to serve the rest of Sessions’ term, could be called to task for his past comments on Trump.
The Hill notes that Brooks’ remarks could hurt him in the race against Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, well-known for his high-profile religious liberty battles.
But in an interview with The Hill, Brooks downplayed Trump attacks, saying they were to support for Sen. Ted Cruz’s unsuccessful presidential bid.
“When I’m in combat, a political fight, I use all weapons at my disposal, as I’m sure all of the candidates do,” Brooks said. “Once the fight was over with, it was important for our nominee to win the election.”
Brooks added: “I’m not going to rehash the arguments I used to try to persuade voters to vote for the candidate of my choice in the primary, Ted Cruz. I will say, right now, Donald Trump is a vastly superior choice to the alternative of Hillary Clinton.”
However, that’s a significantly different tone than February 2016, when Brooks told MSNBC a day before the Super Tuesday primaries: “I think what you are going to see 12 to 18 months from now is that a lot of people who have supported Donald Trump, they are going to regret having done so.”
“I don’t support people who support adultery, and I don’t trust people who are serial adulterers, as Donald Trump has been and bragged about in writing because I don’t think that is an honorable thing or trait in a person,” he added.
Nevertheless, since Trump’s victory, Brooks has become an outspoken supporter.
In a speech on the House floor a few weeks after the election, Brooks defended Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
“A circus of left-wing media pundits immediately pounced on President-elect Trump’s opinion in an effort to silence serious discussion of the noncitizen voter fraud problem,” Brooks said.
This change of heart may not be enough to sway Alabama voters, who already sent a message to Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby.
Roby had also called for Trump to step aside after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape where he makes lewd comments about grabbing women.
Although Roby eventually won re-election, it was by only nine points – a much narrower margin than expected for her heavily-Republican district, which Trump won by 32 points.