by WorldTribune Staff, November 22, 2017
President Donald Trump offered a near-endorsement of embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore on Nov. 21.
Trump told reporters: “I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen.”
Asked whether he would campaign for the Alabama Republican, Trump responded: “I’ll be letting you know next week.”
Trump’s current stance on Moore “followed days of behind-the-scenes talks in which he vented about Moore’s accusers and expressed skepticism about their accounts,” Politico reported on Nov. 21.
Initially, when the charges against Moore first surfaced, Trump had said the candidate must drop out of the race if the accusations were true.
Trump later said it was up to Alabama voters to decide Moore’s fate.
A turning point came, Politico said in its report, when “Trump gave personal approval” for White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to go after Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, during a Nov. 20 interview on “Fox & Friends”.
“Conway laced into Jones, saying that Alabama voters shouldn’t be ‘fooled’ by him, and hinted that the White House wanted Moore’s vote on tax reform. It was an extraordinary shift and suggested the White House was seriously warming toward Moore.”
A day after Conway went after Jones, Trump weighed in.
“I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat – Jones. I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”
Politico reported that “White House advisers said the president drew parallels between Moore’s predicament and the one he faced just over a year ago when, during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Trump confronted a long line of women who accused him of harassment. He adamantly denied the claims.”
Trump also had “refused to publicly castigate Moore, eschewing repeated requests from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to intervene,” Politico’s report said. “Behind the scenes, the president asked his advisers for updates on the Alabama race, requesting fresh polling and prodding them for information on how people in the state are digesting the revelations. Among the questions he asked: Whether locals believed the accusations Moore was facing.
“All the while, Moore’s team was thrilled that the president – who remains widely popular in Alabama – has refused to stay out of the race. The campaign, one Moore adviser said, had been in touch with the White House in recent weeks. With Moore refusing to exit the race, advisers say the president saw little upside to aligning himself against him.”