- President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that Roy Moore, the defeated Senate candidate from Alabama, had the deck stacked against him in Tuesday’s election.
- Trump added that he had backed a different candidate in the Republican primary because he knew Moore would lose.
- It’s unclear which doubts Trump had leading up to the late-September primary; the sexual-misconduct allegations that derailed Moore’s campaign emerged only in November, and Alabama has been a GOP seat since the 1990s.
President Donald Trump reflected on the Republican Party’s upset in Alabama’s US Senate race by saying Roy Moore worked hard but ultimately faced an uphill battle.
“The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”
Moore’s loss to the Democrat Doug Jones in what was considered a safe seat for Republicans in deep red Alabama will narrow the GOP’s Senate majority to just 51 and will embolden Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. It will also give Republicans even more urgency to pass a tax plan this year.
The election was dominated by accusations of sexual misconduct from eight women who said Moore had pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers – including one who said she was 14 – and he was in his 30s. He denied all of the allegations, which emerged during the swelling #MeToo movement that has encouraged women to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and that has brought down numerous powerful men.
During the same period in which Moore received the Republican National Committee’s support amid the storm of misconduct allegations, top Democrats led a push to clean house of Democratic lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.
Trump first seemed reluctant to campaign for Moore after the accusations emerged in November, but he eventually offered de facto and then explicit endorsements of Moore, saying the Republican Party needed to maintain its numbers in the Senate.
The first Alabama Democratic senator this century
Though Trump did back Luther Strange in the late-September Republican primary, it’s unclear why Trump would have doubted Moore’s candidacy at that time, as he suggested in his Wednesday-morning tweet, because the allegations against Moore came to light only well after he had clinched the nomination.
Moore very nearly did win Tuesday’s election, losing by just 1.5 percentage points. In fact, citing the close vote, Moore had not conceded by the time of this writing on Wednesday morning.
A Democrat hadn’t won a Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. That senator, Richard Shelby, became a Republican two years later, and he said he didn’t vote for Jones, instead writing in a Republican name.
It was also unclear how Trump felt the deck was stacked against Moore or whether that was a reference to misconduct allegations. Republicans have held both US Senate seats in Alabama since the mid-1990s, and the state consistently votes for the GOP.
Trump had also expressed doubts over the allegations, calling attention to a report that one of Moore’s accusers had added notes to what she said was Moore’s signature in her high-school yearbook.
“Did you see what happened today? You know, the yearbook?” Trump asked the audience at a rally Friday in Pensacola, Florida, which shares a media market with Alabama. “There was a little mistake made. She started writing things in the yearbook. Ah, what are we gonna do?”
Overall, Trump seemed conciliatory about the election that did not go his way from the start. Soon after Jones clinched the victory, Trump tweeted to congratulate him.
“I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than to divide us,” Jones said during his victory speech Tuesday night. “We have shown not just around the state of Alabama but we have shown the country the way that we can be unified.”
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