After almost two weeks of ducking questions on whether he still backs Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, President Trump made it clear Tuesday that he stood by his endorsement.
“We don’t need a liberal Democrat in that seat,” Trump said as he exited the White House Tuesday. “We don’t need a liberal person in there.”
And Trump defended Moore, who like Trump has faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from numerous women.
“Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. And by the way, he totally denies it,” Trump said when asked if he believes Moore or the nine women that have accused Moore of inappropriate sexual actions, many of them when they were teens. “And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time.”
Trump told reporters that he’ll announce “next week” if he’ll campaign for Moore ahead of the Dec. 12 special election.
Trump’s decision to stand by Moore — who he heartily endorsed after he defeated Trump-backed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the GOP primary — comes after heavy lobbying from top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway as well as former top Trump adviser and Breitbart News head Steve Bannon.
It marks a major split with other Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and a number of other top Republicans have called on Moore to drop out of the race, though the Alabama Republican Party has stuck by Moore. Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka came out to say she believed Moore’s female accusers and said “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children” — comments that are being featured in Democratic opponent Doug Jones’ campaign ads.
As Trump was defending Moore at the White House, Moore’s embattled campaign held a press event attempting to poke holes in the stories of two of the women accusing Moore.
They went after Leigh Corfman, who has said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old, claiming court documents they found showed she had “disciplinary problems,” while trying to knock down details in the accounts of both Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, who has said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old.
They refused to take questions while attacking reporters during the so-called “press conference.”
“You’ve got to understand, Alabamians, that the world is watching you,” Moore ally Dean Young said during the event. “The question is can you be tricked, can you be tricked, because all hell is coming to Alabama against Judge Roy Moore. … We have to show the world that we’re not a bunch of idiots, we’re not a bunch of sheep.”
And Young accused Jones for supporting transgender people, using an interesting line of attack given the allegations that Moore molested teenage girls.
“[Jones] is for transgenders going into little girls bathrooms, boys pretending they’re girls going into little girls’ bathrooms in the school,” he said.
“We believe Judge Moore, we don’t believe these women,” he continued.
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