WASHINGTON: Donald Trump threw his full weight Friday behind Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican running for the US Senate with the president’s support despite being accused of molesting teenaged girls.
“VOTE ROY MOORE!” tweeted the US leader, who later Friday heads to Pensacola on the Florida-Alabama state line for a campaign-style rally seen as reaffirmation of his backing for Moore in next week’s closely-watched election.
Trump earlier this week officially endorsed the ultra-conservative Christian in the December 12 vote — a change of tack after he initially characterized the allegations against Moore as “very troubling.”
Moore, a 70-year-old former state judge, stands accused of sexual assault by several women who were teenagers at the time, including one who was 14.
Trump has cited Moore’s potentially decisive Senate vote on everything from immigration to abortion as reasons to support him, saying a victory for his Democratic rival Doug Jones would be a “disaster.”
“LAST thing the Make America Great Again Agenda needs is a Liberal Democrat in Senate where we have so little margin for victory already,” he repeated Friday.
Jones, Trump tweeted, “would vote against us 100% of the time.”
“He’s bad on Crime, Life, Border, Vets, Guns & Military.”
The Alabama race, which is being held to replace Jeff Sessions — who Trump named US attorney general — has national repercussions because the Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. A win for Jones would make it 51-49.
Moore’s local supporters have dismissed the allegations against him, first reported by the Washington Post, as part of a politically-motivated campaign to undermine his election bid.
At the national level, however, Republicans fear the race will give the impression the party tolerates abusive behavior towards women, as the country grapples with snowballing allegations of harassment and assault in the worlds of politics, entertainment and the media.
On Thursday, US Senator Al Franken became the second prominent Democrat in a week to resign in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct — in his case that he kissed and touched several women without consent.
In a defiant resignation address, the comedian-turned-lawmaker noted with bitter irony that Moore was running for election with the president’s support — while accused of far more serious offenses.