IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Alabama Senate race is becoming a headache for Trump — again

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Former President Donald Trump Holds A Rally In Alabama
Former President Donald Trump welcomes Senate candidate Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., to the stage during a "Save America" rally on Aug. 21, 2021 in Cullman, Ala.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... Russia continues to bombard Ukrainian cities. ... The WHO says Russia has attacked 43 Ukrainian health facilities. ... President Biden speaks with China’s Xi. ... N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu will veto the state's new congressional map. ... And No. 2 seed Kentucky goes down in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

But first: Arguably no red state has frustrated Donald Trump more than Alabama has since he won the presidency in 2016.

For starters, the original candidate he endorsed in Alabama’s 2017 special Senate race, Luther Strange, ended up losing the GOP primary to Roy Moore.

Then Trump backed Moore — remember him? — who ended up losing the general special election to Democrat Doug Jones (which Republicans won back in 2020).

Let’s also not forget that the entire special election took place because Trump picked then-Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general, which created the Senate vacancy.

And now in the 2022 race to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Trump is thinking about rescinding his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who’s competing against fellow Republicans Katie Britt and Mike Durant in the May 24 primary.

“Mo Brooks is disappointing,” the former president told the Washington Examiner. “I’m determining right now, has Mo Brooks — has he changed?”

Trump went on to explain in the interview that Brooks was “inarticulate” in describing Trump’s debunked claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Brooks responded, telling “I am baffled because my position on voter fraud has not changed one iota since Jan. 6 [2021]."

And now Brooks has dropped a new TV ad, running as part of a new $455,000 buy, playing up his participation at the Jan. 6 rally with Trump before protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“On Jan. 6, I proudly stood with President Trump in the fight against voter fraud,” Brooks says in the ad.

It’s all turned into another Alabama headache for the former president.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 43

That’s the number of verified attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities, attacks that have killed 12 people and injured 34 people.

That’s according to World Health Organization General-Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who addressed the United Nations Security Council to deliver the news, adding that "in any conflict, attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law.”

Other numbers to know:

726: The number of people killed in Ukraine so far, including 52 children, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

8: The number of members of the House, all Republicans, who voted against suspending normal trade relations with Russia.

1 in 8: That’s how many Americans said they smoked cigarettes in 2020, an all-time low according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

44: The number of senators who have met with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, according to former Sen. Doug Jones, who’s acting as her “sherpa” on Capitol Hill, per NBC’s Frank Thorp. Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings start Monday.

Midterm roundup: Sunu-no

New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu announced yesterday that he plans to veto the congressional map drawn by Republicans in the state legislature, which made both of the state’s districts less competitive.

Sununu said the new map is “not in the best interest of New Hampshire,” adding, “The citizens of this state are counting on us to do better.” Legislators now either have to draw a new map or attempt to override the governor’s veto, per WMUR.

New Hampshire is one of just four states that have yet to complete their redistricting process, according to 538. The others include Missouri, Louisiana and Florida.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Alabama Senate: Retiring Sen. Richard Shelby is planning to transfer $6 million from his campaign account to a super PAC supporting his former chief of staff, Katie Britt.

Ohio Senate: Former Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel is out with a new ad on illegal immigration, arguing that “we shouldn't spend a penny” on undocumented immigrants while American veterans are homeless. The GOP candidates are facing off at a FreedomWorks forum tonight and a debate on Monday.

Georgia Governor: A new feature on the race in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution includes some interesting nuggets, including that incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp led former Sen. David Perdue 51-35 in a Republican primary poll done by a GOP pollster, and that the wealthy Perdue is giving money to his own campaign. Perdue is getting some outside help, with the group Georgia Action Fund reserving $545,000 in airtime, per AdImpact.

Wisconsin Senate: Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday he won’t pick sides in the state’s crowded Democratic Senate primary, which features his 2018 running mate, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Oklahoma Senate: CBS is reporting former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is weighing a Senate bid.

Pennsylvania 12: Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is endorsing state Rep. Summer Lee in the race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle (who has endorsed a different would-be successor, Steve Irwin).

Ad watch: Britt’s teammate

With the Alabama Senate race in full swing, one GOP candidate is betting football will help her cut through all the noise and stand out.

A new TV ad from Katie Britt’s campaign features her husband, Wesley Britt, a former Alabama football star who went on to play a few seasons in the NFL. He highlights his wife’s “toughness” and readiness to “take it to Biden and his crew.”

Katie Britt ends the ad, telling voters, “I’ve had enough and the liberals in Washington? They’re going to hear about it.”

The ad has been out on digital platforms since September, but this week was the first time AdImpact, the ad tracking firm, tracked it on television.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is being investigated by the state of North Carolina over his voter registration after new reports suggest he listed his legal residence as a mobile home he did not own.

Some Democrats “are drawing parallels between the existential fight for democracy in Ukraine and the struggle to protect American democracy,” writes NBC’s Sahil Kapur.

Biden appointed Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, to be the new White House Covid response coordinator.