Beleaguered Roy Moore Locks Down Trump’s Endorsement

(CN) – Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, the Republican accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades ago, finally received a long-awaited formal endorsement Monday from President Donald Trump.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, in Fairhope, Ala.  on Sept. 25. (AP file photo/Brynn Anderson)

Writing on Twitter Monday morning, Trump framed the former judge’s campaign for Alabama’s vacant Senate seat as a need for Republican votes after Democratic senators refused to vote for the GOP’s tax-reform plan.

“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Trump wrote. “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!”

Moore’s opponent in the Dec. 12 special election is Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor that helped put some of the Ku Klux Klansmen who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 behind bars.

Moore and Jones are vying to fill the Senate seat left vacant by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump followed up his first tweet with a second saying if Alabama – a traditional Republican stronghold – elected Jones, it would “hurt our great Republican agenda.”

Afterwards, Trump called Moore, according to a press release issued by embattled Republican’s campaign, and finished the conversation by saying, “Go get ‘em, Roy!”

Moore said he looks “forward to fighting alongside the president” to help advance Trump’s agenda in Congress, adding the two are working together to ensure a Moore victory in next week’s special election.

“President Trump knows that the future of his conservative agenda in Congress hinges on this election,” Moore said in a statement Monday.

The relationship between Moore and Trump has been a complicated one throughout the race. When Moore announced his candidacy to fill the vacant seat, he did so by challenging Luther Strange, who was appointed to that seat after Sessions left to work as Trump’s attorney general.

In the primary race, Moore represented a stylistic split in the Republican Party. Trump endorsed Strange, while Steve Bannon, Trump’s former advisor, split with the president to back Moore.

Trump had traveled to Huntsville, Alabama, to stump for Strange ahead of the Sept. 26 primary, which Moore won by 9 percentage points.

Moore’s campaign tried to steal the thunder of a presidential appearance during the primary race. Dean Young, a confidant of the former judge, said at the time that if Trump made an appearance at a dueling Moore rally that week, a bucket of original fried chicken would be waiting for him.

Despite Trump’s known love for fast food – his go-to McDonald’s meal is a version of a surf-and-turf reportedly consisting of two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake – the president did not show.

But Moore was not without a long list of endorsements. During his campaign so far, his website has boasted of endorsements that included action star Chuck Norris, famed duck hunter and reality TV star Phil Robertson and even deceased conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

Moore’s list of endorsements was removed from his website soon after the allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenagers were published in the Washington Post.

At least seven women have come forward, including Leigh Corfman, who claims Moore made inappropriate advances and had sexual contact with her when she was 14.

Corfman says Moore, then 32, first approached her in early 1979 outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala., when she was with her mother. After phone calls and meetings, he allegedly drove her to his home a few days later and kissed her. On another visit, Corfman claims Moore took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes except for his underwear before touching her over her bra and underpants and guiding her hand to touch him over his underwear.

Moore has denied any wrongdoing.

Courthouse News reached out to Norris and Robertson last month to see if they still stood by their endorsements of Moore, but they have not responded.

Moore told a crowd of supporters last week, “I wanna join with Donald Trump, make American great again. And I know to be great again, we’ve got to be good again.”

The White House said last week Trump would not travel to Alabama to campaign for Moore, but the Republican candidate got the endorsement he’s been waiting for Monday.

Also on Monday, The Post reported that one of Moore’s accusers, 54-year-old Debbie Gibson, came forward with new evidence of the relationship she said she had with Moore when she was 17 and he was 34, including a high school graduation card he allegedly gave her.

Moore is no stranger to controversy. Before the allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, he was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court – in 2003 after defying a judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse, and again in 2016 for telling the state’s probate judges to defy federal orders on same-sex marriage.

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