Calling the allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore incidents that occurred “decades ago,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters Monday that the President had no choice but to endorse Moore.
“I don’t think he had any choice but to do that,” Hatch told reporters who traveled with President Donald Trump to Utah on Monday, according to Bloomberg. “He needs every Republican he can get so he can put his agenda through. So, that’s the only Republican you can possibly get down there.”
Upon initial news that multiple women had come forward alleging that Moore had pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s, Hatch and several Republican leaders in Congress said if the allegations were true, Moore should step aside. Hatch appeared to walk that back on Monday.
“Many of the things he allegedly did are decades ago, so it’s hard to — that’s a decision that has to be made by the people in that state,” he said. “If they make that decision, who are we to question them?”
Hatch’s comments fall in line with the cautious nod his colleagues are giving Moore in the last week before the Dec. 12 election.
While initially adamant that Moore should step aside, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made similar comments over the weekend, saying the people of Alabama should decide Moore’s fate. The White House was also careful to distance itself from Moore at first, but Trump all-out endorsed the embattled candidate Monday in a tweet and phone call.
“Go get ‘em, Roy!” Trump told Moore in the phone call, according to his campaign.
On Monday evening, the Republican National Committee reversed course and backed Moore after initially backing away when the allegations surfaced.