BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — President Donald Trump said electing a Democrat as Alabama’s next senator “would be a disaster,” as the president tried to steer the Alabama race toward partisan legislative concerns and away from allegations of sexual misconduct against Republican Roy Moore. [restrict]
While Republican Senate leaders have criticized their party’s nominee, Trump plunged into the Alabama Senate race with a pair of tweets Sunday bashing Democrat Doug Jones.
“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY,” he wrote from Florida, referring to Democrats’ congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
For weeks, accusations that Moore, now 70, sexually molested or assaulted two teens, ages 14 and 16 — and tried to date several others — while he was in his 30s have taken center stage in the heated Alabama race. Moore denied the allegations of misconduct and said he never dated “underage” women.
Trump’s words could be a boost to the Moore camp, since Democrats’ hopes in the race partly depend upon peeling away Republican support from Moore in the deeply red state.
Moore’s campaign quickly touted Trump’s comments on social media and in a fundraising email to supporters that lashed out at Republican leaders as much as it did Jones.
“President Trump calls them like he sees them. And, he’s got my opponents in D.C. scrambling,” Moore wrote in a fundraising email.
The Republican candidate has made limited public appearances since the allegations surfaced earlier this month.
Jones, speaking to reporters in Birmingham, shrugged off Trump’s criticisms, saying he would not be a partisan voter. He said Alabamians are focused on issues such as the economy, education and health care.
“My record speaks for itself … I think I am very strong on the issues that the people of Alabama care for,” Jones said.
Jones, a former federal prosecutor, said he would be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate, similarly to his political mentor, the late U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin, who represented the state for nearly 20 years.
Jones’ campaign issued a more biting statement saying, “Roy Moore was unfit for office even before nine Alabama women served as witnesses to all Alabamians of his disturbing conduct.”
Trump’s comment in the race signaled that the success of his legislative agenda outweighs widespread concerns from national Republicans, many of whom are repulsed at the prospect of seating Moore.
Top Republicans in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have called for Moore to leave the race, and the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for his campaign.
GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said the Dec. 12 election has become a referendum on “the character of the country” that transcends partisan politics.
“In my opinion, and in the opinion of many Republicans and conservatives in the Senate, it is time for us to turn the page because it is not about partisan politics. It’s not about electing Republicans versus Democrats,” Scott said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has also called for Moore to step down, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump is “definitely trying to throw a lifeline to Roy Moore.” [/restrict]