WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that electing a Democrat as Alabama’s next senator “would be a disaster,” making clear the success of his legislative agenda outweighs widespread GOP repulsion at the prospect of seating Republican Roy Moore, who is dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.
The allegations, including claims that the 70-year-old Moore sexually assaulted or molested two teenage girls while he was in his 30s, have made the Dec. 12 election a referendum on “the character of the country” that transcends partisan politics, said GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, as the party establishment cringed at Trump’s latest intervention in the closely contested race.
“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.”
“It’s about the character of our country,” he said.
Trump on Sunday once again plunged himself into the race, declaring in a pair of tweets — without mentioning Moore by name — that electing Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, would “be a disaster.”
“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.
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.”
Two women have accused Moore of sexually assaulting or molesting them decades ago, when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. Moore has denied the accusations. At least five others have said he pursued romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was a prosecutor. Moore has said he never dated “underage” women.
Moore has had few public appearances since the accusations surfaced earlier this month, but his campaign quickly touted the president’s tweets, adding “We will defeat him on Dec. 12,” a reference to Jones.
Trump had stayed silent on Moore for days until all but endorsing him while departing for Washington last week. The president dismissed questions from reporters about his willingness to back a Republican accused of sexual assault over a Democrat.
Trump, who won election despite facing more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct himself, appeared last Tuesday to shrug off the allegations against Moore, saying, “Forty years is a long time.”
Trump has no campaign events for Moore scheduled at this time, said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.