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Republican leaders in Washington are coming to grips with the possibility — perhaps even probability — that Alabama’s Roy Moore will win his special election next Tuesday and join them in the capital.
Looking past allegations of sexual misconduct with Alabama teenagers, President Donald Trump formally endorsed Moore, and the Republican National Committee quickly followed suit late Monday, announcing it was returning at least some of the support it had pulled last month.
“I think he’s going to do very well. We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me,” Trump said Tuesday during a lunch with Republican senators. “We want strong borders, we want stopping crime, we want to have the things that we represent and we certainly don’t want to have a liberal Democrat that’s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer, we don’t want to have that for Alabama.”
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who once called on Moore to get out of the race, changed his rhetoric over the weekend to say that it was Alabama voters who should decide.
The changed tone — and Trump’s decision to do away with any facade of distancing himself from the race — make it clear they are increasingly confident in Moore’s chances of victory despite the continued unease of some other Republicans.
The special election is next Tuesday for the seat once held by Jeff Sessions, now the U.S. attorney general. Although the polls have showed a narrowing contest with Democrat Doug Jones, Alabama is a strongly Republican state and Democrats generally have little chance there.
A Moore victory would set up a potential clash with fellow Republicans in Congress, some of whom have resoundingly called on him to quit the race. While some have softened their rhetoric recently, others have said they still will try to expel him if he is elected.
An RNC official confirmed late Monday that the committee would once again be supporting Moore after severing its fundraising ties to his campaign last month, though it was not immediately clear what that support would entail. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the reversal, which was first reported by Breitbart News.
Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman, is scheduled to attend a rally with Moore Tuesday evening.