Trump on Roy Moore race: We don’t need a Democrat in that seat
President Trump on Tuesday appeared to throw his support behind Roy Moore (R) despite the allegations of sexual misconduct against the Alabama Senate candidate.
“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.
The president slammed the record of Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, saying “it’s terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military.”
Trump declined to say whether he believes the accusations against Moore, but stressed that the former judge has denied them.
“He denies it. He totally denies it,” Trump said, noting the alleged incidents took place about 40 years ago. “Roy Moore denies it — that’s all I can say.”
Trump did not rule out a possible campaign stop with Moore, telling reporters, “I’ll be letting you know next week.”
Trump spoke during an impromptu question-and-answer session before departing for his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he will spend Thanksgiving.
The president’s comments were his most direct to date on the allegations against Moore, which first surfaced two weeks ago.
They might take pressure off the Senate hopeful, who has come under fire as more sexual misconduct allegations pile up against him.
The Alabama Republican became embroiled in scandal after The Washington Post reported that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
Several other women have come forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate sexual advances that happened when they were teenagers.
Moore, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has vehemently denied the allegations and has railed against GOP leaders and the media for the outsized attention given to the claims.
A growing number of Republicans in Washington have called on him to step aside; some have even floated expelling him if he wins the Dec. 12 special election.
Senate Republicans have already ended their financial support for Moore’s campaign. The Republican National Committee also ended its joint fundraising agreement with Moore.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, also blasted Moore over the allegations.
“There is a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” she told The Associated Press last week, adding that she has “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.
But Moore has remained defiant and in the race despite public polling and some GOP internal surveys that show Jones in the lead.
The Moore campaign lashed out at the news media, Democrats and the GOP establishment in a press conference on Tuesday.
“Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE has spent over $30 million dollars trying to stop Judge Roy Moore. The Washington Post and all of the fake media for the last two weeks has said everything they can say about Judge Moore. They’re trying to dig people up, put them on TV and say ‘Judge Moore’s a bad guy,’ ” said Dean Young, the Moore campaign’s chief political strategist.
If Republicans lose the Senate seat, it could deprive them of a key vote leaders need to pass a tax overhaul and other key agenda items.
With Moore refusing to exit the race, Trump has apparently decided to give a tacit endorsement to the embattled candidate in the hopes that a victory in Alabama will keep his agenda on track.
It’s a departure from just two weeks ago, when the White House sought to distance itself from Moore and even suggested he might need to step down.
“The president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters traveling with Trump in Asia.
Sanders, however, stopped short of calling on Moore to step aside on Thursday when asked about the allegations.
“That is a decision the people of Alabama need to make, not the president,” she said.
Now, Trump and his aides are making an affirmative case for Moore’s election to the Senate.
“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Monday on “Fox & Friends.”
A few days earlier, Conway said “there is no Senate seat worth more than a child.”
Trump was asked on Tuesday to offer a message to women at a time when a litany of powerful men in media, entertainment, politics and business have been accused of sexual misconduct.
“Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very very good for women,” the president said.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was accused of sexual assault by a number of women after a secret recording revealed him bragging about grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without their consent.
Trump and the White House have repeatedly denied the allegations.
— This story was updated at 4:30 p.m.
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