For the first time, President Donald Trump has endorsed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after previously defending the embattled Republican in a series of offhand comments to reporters last month.
Last month, the Washington Post published a bombshell story including allegations from a woman who said she had sexually inappropriate contact with Moore when he was a 32-year-old assistant DA and she was a 14-year-old high school student. Since then, seven other woman have come forward to accuse Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers.
Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
Until today, Trump had been unwilling to openly endorse Moore, though he did defend him and question the veracity of the women’s claims.
In a tweet, Trump argued that “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!"
He later added: “Putting Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders…& so much more. Look at your 401-k’s since Election. Highest Stock Market EVER! Jobs are roaring back!"
Initially, the White House said Trump believed “the people of Alabama should decide” who deserves to win the seat. Later, Trump cast doubt on the allegations against Moore, saying the incidents in question happened more than 40 years ago.
Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017
“I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” he said.
“He denies it. Look, he denies it,” Trump said of the accusations against Moore.
“If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And look, you have to look at him also."
The White House has said Trump won’t campaign for Moore - who faces allegations of sexually assaulting teens as your as 14, and pursuing relationships with other underage girls — although he is holding a rally on Friday in Pensacola, Fla., about an hour out of Alabama.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday that the people of Alabama will decide whether Moore is elected.
"I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call," McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week."
McConnell had previously said he would push for Moore’s expulsion if he does win next week’s special election.
While Moore's odds of winning took a hit after the allegations first surfaced, his standing in the polls has risen over the past two weeks. Moore now holds a solid five-point lead over Jones, according to the latest data from RealClearPolitics.
Trump initially supported Luther Strange, who was appointed by former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to temporarily fill the senate seat previously held by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a primary race against Moore, who handily won. Moore is considered a hero among the evangelicals of Alabama for refusing the remove a statue of the ten commandments he had installed in the Alabama Supreme Court when he was chief justice. The Alabama Republican Party has stood by Moore, and while many Republicans in the senate initially tried to distance themselves, their fervant opposition has died down.