DOLOMITE, Alabama – President Trump endorsed embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Monday, telling the candidate “go get ’em” in a phone call after weeks of sidestepping allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct against the Republican.
On social media, Mr. Trump said he needs Mr. Moore’s support for his agenda in the Senate, where the GOP holds a slender 52-48 majority.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more.”
He said of Democratic candidate Doug Jones, “No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!”
Mr. Trump personally phoned Mr. Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, from Air Force One on his way to an event in Utah to give his endorsement.
“The president had a positive call with Judge Roy Moore during which they discussed the state of the Alabama Senate race and the president endorsed Judge Moore’s campaign,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.
And later Monday, the Republican National Committee reversed a decision last month to pull out of the race. The RNC will start sending money to the Alabama GOP for the last week before the election, it said.
“The RNC is the political arm of the president and we support the president,” an RNC official told CNN.
Mr. Moore has regained a slight edge in some polls after his campaign was wracked by the allegations from multiple women of unwanted advances, some when they were in their teens and he was a prosecutor in his 30s. He said in a statement that he is “honored” to receive the president’s endorsement.
“President Trump knows that the future of his conservative agenda in Congress hinges on this election,” Mr. Moore said. “I look forward to fighting alongside the president to strengthen our military, secure our border, protect our gun rights, defend the sanctity of life, and confirm conservative judges to courts around this nation. We had a good conversation over the phone today and are working together towards conservative victory on December 12.”
The Moore campaign said Mr. Trump told Mr. Moore “Go get ’em, Roy” before ending their call.
Mr. Moore plans to campaign Tuesday with Steve Bannon, the former White House Chief strategist, in Fairhope, Alabama, and Mr. Trump will hold a rally Friday in Pensacola, Florida, about 20 miles outside Mobile, an event that will spill over into the Alabama media market.
Mr. Jones shrugged off the president’s endorsement of Mr. Moore in the special Senate race, saying his focus is on being an independent voice for the people of Alabama.
“I am not worried about Roy Moore’s campaign,” Mr. Jones told reporters in Dolomite. “I am not worried about any of that. Our campaign is going straight to the people of Alabama because that is who my voters are. It is not the president, it is not Mitch McConnell.”
Mr. McConnell, in the wake of the accusations against Mr. Moore, called on him to leave the race. Since then, the Kentucky Republican has appeared to soften his opposition to Mr. Moore, a stalwart social conservative who is locked in a competitive race with Mr. Jones.
Over the weekend, Mr. McConnell said the people of Alabama should decide who they want to send to the Senate, and said the winner will be sworn in, and the Senate Ethics Committee would handle the Moore accusations, if he is the victor.
“Obviously, Mitch McConnell had very little credibility in this state anyway,” Mr. Jones said.
Asked about the endorsement, frequent Trump critic Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said “That’s his choice. But I don’t like it.”
The president tweeted electing the “Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones … would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders …& so much more.”
His appearance in Pensacola will be just four days before Alabama voters go to the polls on Dec. 12 to decide the special election for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Senate approved a $1.4 trillion tax-cut plan Saturday by a vote of 51-49. But senators will need to vote on the legislation again after a House-Senate conference committee addresses differences in the competing bills.
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said the president’s endorsement of Mr. Moore isn’t dismissing the allegations of sexual misconduct, saying Mr. Trump has “expressed concern” about the accusations, including one woman who was 14 at the time. Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump has said there is a “place in hell” for people who molest children.
“When allegations rise 38 years later, when Roy Moore has been a very public figure for the past 38 years, he’s run multiple times statewide in Alabama, the people of Alabama need to choose and make decisions about Roy Moore’s character, that there are certain questions that come about the timing of these allegations,” Mr. Short said on CNN. “So when you put all of that together, he’s encouraging people of Alabama to make the right decision.
⦁ Seth McLaughlin reported from Alabama; Dave Boyer from Washington.
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