For the past couple of days, President Donald Trump had been hyping up a Republican candidate on Twitter. Once the candidate lost his race on Tuesday, Sept. 26, however, the president deleted a few tweets for a strange reason... literally. Hours after the results of a special election primary in Alabama became clear, ProPublica, a news organization that has been tracking tweets Trump deletes, found there were at least three deleted Trump tweets about Sen. Luther Strange, the defeated candidate and interim senator whom the president endorsed in the race.
One of the deleted tweets -- which was pointed out by MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin -- was a simple show of support for Strange. In the tweet, Trump wrote,
Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job - vote today for "Big Luther."
The deleted tweet stands out for a number of reasons. First, there's the fact that Trump almost never deletes tweets -- unless some spelling error has been made -- not even tweets that spark controversies (like those alleging former President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States) or ones that contradict his current positions.
Over the past few days, for example, as President Trump continuously weighed in on the subject of NFL player protests, a number of journalists pointed out tweets from Trump years ago, in which the current president implored former President Barack Obama to "focus on his job" and not speak on football-related matters.
More importantly, though, there's the fact that Trump had already been signaling -- literally while he was campaigning for Strange -- that backing Strange might be "a mistake." The president also said on stage that he was ready to campaign for Strange's opponent.
During a rally for Sen. Strange last Friday night in Alabama -- which most drew attention for the president's comments about the NFL -- Trump told a crowd of supporters,
I'll be honest, I might have made a mistake. If Luther doesn't win they're [the media] not going to say, we picked up 25 points in a short period of time. If his opponent wins, I'm going to be here campaigning like hell for him.
The president then added a "but," saying,
Luther will definitely win.
Strange didn't win, though, and Trump deleting those tweets could be a sign of how quickly the president is ready to move on and support the victor, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
On Tuesday night, both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tweeted support for Moore, who will now proceed to a general election later this year against a Democratic opponent.
The result is a defeat for Republican leaders.
Why Trump so quickly erased tweets in support of Sen. Strange is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Republican leaders took an "L" on Tuesday night. Strange -- who had been appointed as interim senator earlier after his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, became attorney general -- was not only backed by President Trump, but also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Moore has already suggested that McConnell should step aside as leader.
That's an important fact to consider, especially as Republicans in the Senate are already having a hard time passing major laws with the 52 GOP lawmakers they have. The prospect of another senator in Congress who doesn't want to work for McConnell is not exactly encouraging for McConnell's chances of getting things done.
Then there's the fact that Moore was backed by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who plans to back more anti-establishment candidates for other Congressional seats. Josh Holmes, an adviser to McConnell, told the Chicago Tribune.
It should be a wake-up call to every Republican. The deep dissatisfaction among the base with the pace of the Trump agenda is very real.
In other words, the election on Tuesday night is a sign that rockier times in Washington D.C. could be coming -- oh, and that Trump does, in fact, deletes tweets, sometimes for Strange reasons.