U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed Republican Roy Moore on Monday in next week's Senate election in Alabama, rebuffing calls by other prominent Republicans that Moore drop out of the race because of accusations that he sexually abused teenage girls four decades ago when he was in his 30s.
In a pre-dawn Twitter comment, Trump said, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama.”
Later, the White House said Trump also called Moore to offer his support in the Dec. 12 election. Moore quoted Trump as saying, “Go get ‘em, Roy!”
The U.S. leader added that Republicans “need his vote” to stop crime, thwart illegal immigration, construct a wall along the Mexican border, advance military spending, fight against abortion, promote gun rights and other issues.
“No to Jones,” Trump said of Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor, whom he said was a “puppet” of the top two congressional Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Trump told voters in the southern state that “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.” Trump said people in Alabama should consider the likely increases in their savings accounts since he was elected a year ago. “Highest Stock Market EVER! Jobs are roaring back!” Trump said.
A short time later, the 70-year-old Moore, expressed his appreciation, saying, “Thankful for President Trump’s support. The America First agenda will (Make America Great Again.) Can’t wait to help him Drain The Swamp.”
Trump has said he will not go to Alabama to campaign for Moore, but is heading Friday to Pensacola, Florida, a short distance from Alabama, for a political rally. Trump has not said whether he believes the women’s accusations against Moore, but noted that Moore has denied them.
“He says it didn't happen,” the president told reporters recently. “You have to listen to him, also.”
Until Monday, Trump had contended that Jones, 63, would, if elected, be beholden to Schumer and Pelosi. But Trump had not explicitly endorsed Moore, who twice was deposed from the Alabama Supreme Court for failing to adhere to federal court rulings.
On one occasion, Moore refused to take down a 2,400-kilogram granite monument at the Alabama court with the Ten Commandments written on it and another time ordered state officials to refuse to sanction same-sex marriages in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing them.
Polls still split on who’s ahead
The sexual misconduct allegations against Moore are playing a major role for voters in the campaign, but two major polls are split on who is ahead in the contest.
A CBS News/YouGov poll on Sunday said Moore is leading by a 49-to-43 percent margin among likely voters. A day earlier, The Washington Post-Schar School survey showed Jones ahead, 50-47.
The contest has been roiled by accusations from two women who alleged that Moore, when he was a local prosecutor in his early 30s, sexually abused them when they were teenagers, while other women, now also in their 50s, said that Moore pursued them for dates when they were teens.
The CBS poll said Republicans, by a 71-17 percent margin, think the allegations are false and they believe Democrats and the media are behind the accusations. One of the accusers, who was 14 at the time she said Moore accosted her, first told her account in the Post, while a second woman held a news conference. The Post’s poll similarly showed Republicans’ disbelief about the allegations, with fewer than one in six Republican-leaning likely voters believing that Moore made unwanted sexual advances against the girls.
The CBS poll said half of Moore’s supporters are backing him because they want a senator who would cast votes for conservative causes, rather than because they think he is the best candidate in the election. The Post said its survey showed that a quarter of voters say moral conduct will be the deciding factor if how they decide to vote, with Jones winning such voters over Moore by a 67-30 margin.
The election is for the last three years of the seat once held by Jeff Sessions, who left it to join Trump's Cabinet as attorney general, the country's top law enforcement official.
While Trump is supporting Moore, other key Republicans have called for him to drop out of the race, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan and two former Republican presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain.
Some Republicans say that Moore, if he wins and is seated in the Senate, should then be immediately expelled because of the sexual misconduct allegations. McConnell on Sunday said it is up to Alabama voters to decide the election and that should Moore win, it would be up to the Senate Ethics Committee to consider the women’s accusations.