A political organization aligned with President Trump appears interested in investing in controversial Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore ahead of a crucial special election in Alabama.
Moore was abandoned by the GOP's top national groups, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, after multiple women accused the retired judge of sexual misconduct decades ago when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. But America First Policies, the political nonprofit designated as Trump's official outside group, is not ruling out getting involved in the Dec. 12 contest.
The president in recent days has spoken approvingly of Moore and urged Alabama voters to reject Democratic nominee Doug Jones. American First Policies, which takes its cues from the White House although it is forbidden from coordinating, then released a poll showing Moore climbing back into the race after seeing his support plummet as voters absorbed news of his alleged sexual misconduct.
The move and commentary from American First Policies president Brian O. Walsh appear to be setting the stage for groups to sink resources into Alabama on Moore's behalf. “Although there has been a massive amount of investment and media attention surrounding the race, Doug Jones has tumbled,” Walsh said. “This election is a dead heat and far from over.”
Moore vehemently denies all allegations. But with multiple women accusing him, including one who said she was 14, two years under the age of consent, when the two engaged in sexual relations, the candidate became radioactive. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has threatened to expel Moore from the Senate if he wins; and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said he wrote in the name of another candidate when he cast his early vote.
With the new zero-tolerance policy taking hold for men in politics, media, and entertainment who are credibly accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, Republicans could be in a tough spot if Moore defeats Jones later this month. Democrats face similar challenges, as they grapple with how to deal with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who has been accused of groping, and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who has been accused of sexual harassment.
Moore's presence in the Senate could taint Republicans running for office in 2018. Moving to expel him could put Senate Republicans at odds with Trump, who has tacitly endorsed Moore, not to mention cause a backlash from the party's conservative base that is supportive of the president. America First Policies' participation in the Alabama campaign would give Moore a sort of official GOP seal of approval that other Republicans might have to answer for.
The group fielded two polls in November. The first, held Nov. 13-15, showed Jones leading Moore 49 percent to 41 percent. The second, held Nov. 26-28, showed Moore ahead 46 percent to 45 percent. The winner will take Republican Jeff Sessions old seat. Sessions resigned from the Senate in January to become U.S. attorney general.
Moore defeated appointed Sen. Luther Strange in a September GOP primary runoff.