Donald Trump offers full support for controversial Republican Roy Moore – World

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U.S. President Donald Trump gave embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore a vigorous formal endorsement Monday, looking past allegations of sexual misconduct with Alabama teenagers as Republican leaders in Washington, once appalled by Moore’s candidacy, began to come to grips with the ever-clearer possibility of his victory.

Buoyed by the taste of his own success in Congress as the Republican tax bill inches closer to passage, Trump telephoned Moore to offer encouragement as well as support and also argued in a pair of tweets that Moore’s vote was badly needed to push the president’s policies forward. The Republican National Committee quickly followed suit, announcing they were returning the support they had pulled last month.

In addition, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who was initially among several national Republicans to urge Moore to drop out of the race, said Sunday it was up to Alabama voters to decide whether the former state Supreme Court chief justice should be elected.

Weeks ago, when accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers first surfaced, Trump’s spokesperson had said the president believed Moore would “do the right thing and step aside” if the allegations were true.

‘Go get ’em, Roy!’

Top Republicans vowed to expel him from the Senate if he won his Dec. 12 special election. And, publicly and privately, Republican leaders described the allegations against Moore as credible and insisted there were no circumstances under which he should serve in the Senate.

Trump’s tweets on Monday showed his thinking has evolved as Moore has rejected his party’s appeals and doggedly remained in the race.

In the phone call, Moore said, Trump offered “his full support and said he needs a fighter to help him in the US Senate.”

Moore tweeted that the president told him: “Go get ’em, Roy!”

Potentially explosive clash

Trump’s move was somewhat symbolic: He had already all but endorsed Moore, repeatedly criticizing Democratic rival Doug Jones on Twitter and planning a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, less than 32 kilometres from the Alabama border and just four days before voters head to the polls.

Still, Trump’s decision to do away with any pretense of distance made clear he is increasingly confident in Moore’s chances of victory despite the continued unease of some other Republican leaders.

corfman-moore-nelson.jpg

A photo composite shows Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Roy Moore, flanked in the centre by two people who accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s. Leigh Corfman, left, said she was 14 when she was assaulted by Moore. Beverly Young Nelson, right, alleges she was assaulted by Moore about 40 years ago when she was 16. (Reuters)

And the RNC quickly followed his lead. An RNC official confirmed late Monday that the committee would once again be supporting Moore, after severing its fundraising ties to his campaign last month. It was not immediately clear what that support would entail. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the reversal, which was first reported by Breitbart News.

A Moore victory would set up a potentially explosive clash with fellow Republicans in Congress, some of whom have resoundingly called on him to quit the race. While some have softened their rhetoric recently, others have said they still will try to expel him if he is elected.

‘We need his vote’

Moore’s campaign was wounded by accusations this fall of sexual misconduct, decades ago, made by women who were then teenagers. One of the women alleges he initiated sexual contact when she was 14.

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