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Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

President Trump is riding to Roy Moore’s rescue in Alabama one week from election day.

Trump called Moore on Monday to heartily re-endorse him, a move that’s likely to help boost Moore as he seeks to survive multiple accusations of sexual misconduct that have put his Senate campaign in jeopardy in deep-red Alabama.

The Republican National Committee decided to follow suit after Trump’s call, TPM confirmed Monday night, after the committee had earlier suspended its support of Moore. Though it’s as yet unclear what exactly they’ll do for Moore, last-minute aid to help bolster his weak fundraising, limited TV ads and limited field operation could make a crucial difference.

Those steps, and a Friday Trump campaign rally just over the state line in Florida, could make the difference in a close election in a state where the president remains popular — and where boosting turnout is all that matters.

“The president’s approval rating goes off the paper it’s so high. When the president says ‘this is why I need a Republican from Alabama,’ that matters,” Perry Hooper, Trump’s Alabama state chairman, told TPM on Monday. “That message will resonate strongly in Alabama.”

According to Moore’s campaign, Trump called Moore a “fighter” and closed the phone call from Air Force One by declaring “Go get ’em, Roy!” The White House confirmed that Trump called Moore and reaffirmed his endorsement.

That came just after Trump touted Moore’s campaign for the first time since nine women came forward to accuse Moore of acting inappropriately towards them — including one who said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old and another who said he sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Democrats admit Trump’s gambit could work in a close race, convincing reluctant Republicans loyal to Trump but worried about Moore’s temperament and past actions to turn out and vote on Dec. 12. The more aggressively Trump backs Moore, the more he could help.

Public and private polls show a tight race, and the biggest question on all sides remains who will turn out in an oddly timed election where Moore and Jones are the only candidates on the ballot. While Trump’s popularity has sagged nationally, he remains well-liked in Alabama, where he sports some of his highest approval numbers of any state, and is beloved by the most of the state’s GOP base. Moore has bounced back in the polls since Thanksgiving, pulling even with or ahead of Jones in recent surveys after trailing him in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, though strategists in both parties admit they have little idea who is likely to turn out next Tuesday.

And while Jones is outspending Moore 10-to-1 on advertising and has a much larger and more professionalized field operation, a bit of a push from Trump narrows Jones’ narrow path to victory even further in a state no Democratic candidate has won in the past decade.

“What Trump can do is help join the barrage of people cruelly attacking these accusers and normalize an accused pedophile because Trump has been very successful at attacking his own accusers,” one national Democrat monitoring the race told TPM. “If you’re a Trump supporter looking for an out [to vote for Moore], this gives you one.”

The White House has said the president won’t campaign in-state for Moore. But he’s doing the next-best thing, with a Friday campaign stop in Pensacola, Florida  — a site that’s just 15 miles from the Alabama border in a town whose media market covers roughly a quarter of the state. When TPM asked Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who Trump was targeting with the rally, he didn’t mince words: “Alabama.”

Trump’s campaign has been making robocalls featuring Lara Trump advertising the event all over the state of Alabama, according to sources, and it’d be unlike Trump to avoid any mention of Moore during the event.

“Trump’s still got a good following down there,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said Monday on Capitol Hill.

Trump’s endorsement may help win the battle for the seat, but many in the GOP worry a Senator Moore could do further damage to the party’s image that has already been hurt by Trump.

“It’ll be difficult enough for Republicans without us being the party of Roy Moore,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a frequent Trump critic, told TPM Monday night.

Trump’s allies have already been rallying to Moore’s side.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will appear with Moore on Tuesday night, rejoining a man he backed during a hard-fought primary against Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who had the backing of most of the GOP establishment and reluctant support from Trump. The grassroots group Bikers for Trump also rallied for Moore on Sunday.

Other Republicans who’d previously shunned Moore have softened their criticisms in recent days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who’d called on Moore to drop out of the race in the wake of the allegations, said it should be up to “the voters of Alabama to decide” whether or not to elect him on Sunday.

Trump’s re-endorsement comes after weeks off GOP lobbying on the race, with top Trump advisers and allies including Bannon and Kellyanne Conway pushing for him to stand by Moore while others including McConnell fought hard for him to cut Moore loose. Trump decided the accusations against Moore mirrored those from 17 women who accused Trump of sexual harassment during last year’s campaign, sources told TPM.

“I talked to Jared Kushner, I talked to Eric Trump and Eric’s wife [Lara], [White House Deputy Chief of Staff] Rick Dearborn and others who work in the West Wing … they just know they need another Republican vote and they can’t afford to lose another Republican vote,” Hooper told TPM.

Trump’s campaign and the White House declined to discuss any further steps Trump might take for Moore.

Jones’ campaign believes that Trump can only make so much of an impact, pointing out that Moore beat his favored candidate in the primary and arguing that Alabama voters have made up their mind on Moore.

“This is an Alabama race. It doesn’t seem to matter what outside folks say, even if it’s the president it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of impact. Roy Moore’s a pretty known quantity, people know why they’re worried about him or why they’re not,” Jones adviser Joe Trippi told TPM.

But Trippi conceded that the race is all about turnout rather than converting swing voters at this point — an area where Trump might have a big impact.

“This isn’t about changing anyone’s mind. I don’t believe that’s what they’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s about can they get people out to vote.”

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President Trump called Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore to double down on his previous endorsement on Monday morning.

“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,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.

That came after Moore’s wife Kayla posted on Facebook that Trump called Moore to offer his “full support.” Moore’s campaign followed up with a statement that Trump had ended the call with by saying “Go get ’em, Roy!”

Trump’s support could help galvanize the GOP base for Moore in a tough Senate race — and the more he does for Moore ahead of the Dec. 12 election, the better Moore’s chances of surviving accusations from nine women of sexual misconduct.

The call occurred not long after Trump endorsed Moore by name in an early Monday morning tweet, the first time the President has explicitly backed Moore’s campaign since nine women came forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct.

Trump came out to slam Democrat Doug Jones and indicate he still backed Moore’s campaign shortly before Thanksgiving, after nearly two weeks of silence on Moore as other top Republicans pulled their support.

The White House has said Trump won’t travel to Alabama to help Moore — but he’ll be holding a Friday night political rally in Pensacola, Fla., just over the border, whose media market covers much of southern Alabama. Trump’s team hasn’t ruled out other help like robocalls that could help galvanize the GOP base in the state and help Moore in the race’s final days.

Moore was quick to tout the re-endorsement (Trump had backed Moore immediately after he won the GOP primary).

“I am honored to receive the support and endorsement of President Donald Trump. President Trump knows that the future of his conservative agenda in Congress hinges on this election,”Moore said in a statement. “We had a good conversation over the phone today and are working together towards conservative victory on December 12.”

Recent public and private polls show a close race between Moore and Jones in the heavily Republican state.

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Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wants to make the jump from prison to the Senate.

Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety and served a year in prison for his role in failing to prevent an accident at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 people in 2010. He was released from prison last May — and has now decided to run against a longtime foe, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), according to WHCS TV.

The former mine executive has remained unrepentant for his role in the accident, instead blaming federal regulators, while attacking Manchin for how he handled the explosion when he was governor.

Blankenship has been aggressively critical of Manchin for years, and last month put out a TV ad accusing Manchin of having “blood on his hands” — a line Manchin used about Blankenship during the trial.

Blankenship, an extremely wealthy self-funder, has long been a major player in West Virginia GOP politics. But given his conviction, he’s far from the favorite to face Manchin — Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey (R) are already in the race.

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The first woman who came forward to accuse Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual behavior is firing back at his claims that she’s a liar — and questioning how low the hardline religious conservative will go to deny what she says happened.

Leigh Corfman says Moore seduced her when she was just 14 years old, undressing them both in a sexual encounter. After Moore personally called her a liar earlier this week, she fired back with an open letter to AL.com, the state’s largest newspaper group.

“I demand that you stop calling me a liar and attacking my character. Your smears and false denials, and those of others who repeat and embellish them, are defamatory and damaging to me and my family,” she says in the letter. “I am telling the truth, and you should have the decency to admit it and apologize.”

Eight other women have come forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate sexual behavior — including one who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old — and others have come forward to say it was well known in Moore’s hometown that he sought to date teenage girls. Moore’s campaign has responded by questioning Corfman’s claims as well as her character while providing almost no evidence to back up their own claims, and Moore himself went after her and the other accusers on Monday.

“I do not know these women,” he said Monday. “I have never engaged in sexual misconduct with anyone. This is simply dirty politics.”

That was the final straw for Corfman, who hand-delivered the open letter to the newspaper group on Tuesday.

“When you personally denounced me last night and called me slanderous names, I decided that I am done being silent. What you did to me when I was 14-years old should be revolting to every person of good morals. But now you are attacking my honesty and integrity. Where does your immorality end?” she writes in the letter.

The special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old seat in the Senate is Dec. 12, and recent public and private polling shows a tight race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, with the numerous allegations dogging Moore’s campaign in the solidly Republican state.

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Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) has regained a slight lead against Democrat Doug Jones in the first post-Thanksgiving poll, a sign that while the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have bruised his campaign, he’s not done yet.

Moore leads Jones by 49 percent to 44 percent in a new online survey from Change Research, reversing a small 3-point lead Jones had held in the pollster’s first survey after the allegations against Moore surfaced two weeks ago.

The poll shouldn’t be taken as gospel: It was conducted completely online using a methodology some pollsters are still wary of; no single poll should be used to fully judge a race; and the pollster isn’t well-established in the industry, so there’s no lengthy track record to judge it by.

But the survey provides the first public numbers of where the race is since Alabama voters have had time to digest the accusations of nine women that Moore acted inappropriately towards them, including one who accused him of sexual assault when she was 16 years old and another who was 14 when she says Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her. Moore has denied the allegations.

Polls conducted in the immediate aftermath of the accusations and before Thanksgiving painted a mixed picture of the race, with Moore leading by as much as 10 and Jones leading by as much as 6 points, though all pollsters showed a shift towards Jones since the allegations surfaced.

Moore held a narrow 47 percent to 45 percent lead in a one-day Strategy Research survey released last Monday, numbers that were actually good news for Jones since that pollster had found him trailing by 11 in its previous two surveys.

The online poll of 1,868 self-reported Alabama registered voters was conducted from Nov. 26-27.

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President Trump won’t campaign with Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore after floating the idea last week, according to the Associated Press.

A White House official tells the AP that Trump won’t head to Alabama to help Moore, whom Trump is standing by even as other party leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have moved to dump him.

Trump stuck by his endorsement of Moore last week even though nine women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct — including a number who say they had encounters with Moore when they were teenagers. In a brief conversation with reporters, Trump questioned whether those women were telling the truth, attacked Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, and said he’d let them know this week whether or not he’d stump with Moore.

He’s doubled down on the anti-Jones attacks in recent days.

Even if Trump won’t campaign with Moore, his support is providing cover for the controversial candidate as he tries to weather the storm of accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, initiated a consensual sexual encounter with a 14-year-old, and regularly hit on teenagers. It’s unclear whether Trump will go further than his current tweets backing Moore and record robocalls or campaign ads for the embattled Republican, whose campaign struggles could risk the GOP’s control of the Senate.

White House officials didn’t immediately respond to requests from TPM to confirm the AP’s report.

Moore, for his part, has blamed everyone from Democrats to journalists to McConnell and establishment Republicans for trying to scuttle his campaign.

In a new TV spot, he attacks all three groups while not mentioning Jones.

“Roy Moore has been intensely scrutinized, and not a hint of scandal,” the ad’s narrator says. “But, four weeks before the election, false allegations — a scheme by liberal elites and the Republican establishment to protect their big government trough.”

Most polls taken since the scandal broke two weeks ago show a close race, with the accusations taking a toll on Moore.

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A prominent right-wing preacher who appeared alongside Senate candidate Roy Moore at a campaign rally just days ago said that Moore dated teen girls because of their “purity” and because when he got back from Vietnam there weren’t any women his age left to date.

Pastor Flip Benham told a local Alabama radio show on Monday that there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teenage girls.

“Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, was a younger woman,” Benham said on WAPI 99.5 FM Monday evening. “He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”

Moore himself has strenuously denied accusations from multiple women that he made inappropriate sexual advances on them when they were teens — including one who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and another who says he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14.

But while Moore said he didn’t “generally” date teen girls when he was in his early 30s during an interview with right-wing host Sean Hannity shortly after the first accuser came forward, he suggested he may have done so after asking their parents’ permission.

And while he didn’t start dating his wife Kayla until she was in her early 20s, he’s said that he first spotted her at a dance recital when she was a teen.

Benham, a controversial anti-gay pastor who Moore had onstage to defend him at a campaign rally less than a week ago, seemed to suggest there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teen girls.

And he went on to argue there was nothing wrong with Moore dating a girl as young as 14 with her parents’ permission — though he balked when the radio hosts asked him if he felt the same way about a 10-year-old.

Benham’s interview was first noticed nationally by the liberal media watchdog group Right Wing Watch.

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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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Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore on more than one occasion cited murderous cult leader Charles Manson’s “family” to argue why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

Moore, a religious conservative crusader whose Senate campaign is on the rocks because multiple women have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct with them (many when they were teenagers), argued on at least two occasions that legalizing gay marriage would lead to polygamy and allow mass murdering Manson to marry multiple women from his cult.

“It’s not a question of equal protection of law. Every person has the right to marry someone of the opposite gender. That’s always been true, that’s equal protection,” Moore said in early 2015 during a radio interview. “You can’t extend equal protection, say everybody’s got a right to marry anybody they want to, because then you can say Charles Manson had a family and we’ve got to recognize that family.”

Manson, a cult leader whose followers gruesomely murdered seven people including pregnant actress Sharon Tate in 1969, died on Sunday.

That radio interview isn’t the only time Moore used Manson to argue against gay marriage.

During an interview for the 2015 documentary “The State of Being Human,” Moore argued with documentarian David Merriman that gay marriage would lead to Manson-like polygamy.

You know who Charles Manson was? He had a family didn’t he? Well, it was called Charles Manson’s family, wasn’t it?” he said during a back-and-forth with Merriman. “But could they get married?”

When Merriman conceded Manson would legally have been allowed to marry one of his female followers, Moore fired back: “Why not two of them?”

That’s not the only slippery slope argument Moore made in his interview with Merriman — he also referenced bestiality and father-daughter incest.

“I have horses. My wife has horses. She loves her horse. Should she be able to marry her horse?” he asked.

Roy Moore from Dmi Video’s on Vimeo.

“Some men unfortunately love their daughter. And when she becomes of age, should they be able to get married?” he asked a minute later. “If it’s based on love, why shouldn’t a man be able to marry his daughter, and why shouldn’t a woman be able to marry her son?”

One woman has accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old, while another has accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Other women have accused Moore of making passes at them or taking them out on dates when they were teens, or groping them without their consent.

The Democratic outside group American Bridge found the references and shared them with TPM. Moore’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his remarks.

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The man that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) defeated in his 2008 race told TPM Friday that one of the closest Senate races in history likely would have gone his way had Franken’s sexual harassment been public at the time.

“You’ve got to believe that photo is worth more than 312 votes,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told TPM Friday morning, highlighting the exact margin of his 2008 loss to Franken a day after newscaster Leeann Tweeden came forward to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct in 2006 — and included photo evidence.

Coleman declined to further discuss the 2008 race and the current allegations, saying the picture of Franken “speaks for itself” and that he didn’t want to “sound like sour grapes.”

But the former senator is almost certainly right that he would have remained in the Senate if the accusations against Franken had come out before the election.

Coleman lost to Franken after one of the most bitter Senate races in recent memory — and an arduous legal battle afterwards that lasted eight full months, depriving Democrats of Franken’s vote in the Senate for the busy beginning of President Obama’s presidency.

Coleman initially led Franken on election night by 726 votes, a margin that shrank to 215 votes on an official count from the Minnesota secretary of state. The disputed election results then headed to a hotly contested recount — where Franken prevailed by a scant 225 votes. Coleman fought those results in court for months, eventually conceding in late June after the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the results.

But if the scandal that’s currently enveloping Franken had broken then, it’s hard to see how he would have defeated Coleman almost a decade ago, a result that would have deprived Democrats of a key Senate vote years.

Franken had to apologize during that campaign for controversial jokes he’d made in previous years — including a number of rape jokes.

“The things I said and wrote sent a message to some of my friends in this room, and the people in this state, that they can’t count on me to be a champion for women and for all people of Minnesota in this campaign and in the Senate. I’m sorry for that,” he said during the 2008 Democratic-Farmer-Labor state convention.

The allegations against Franken has quickly spurred a Senate Ethics Committee investigation that has the potential to end Franken’s career. And Tweeden’s damning photo is tailor-made for a campaign ad that could have ended Franken’s chances at the Senate.

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