Why you should care
Because Alabama could shift the course of the nation.
Susan Del Percio
Susan Del Percio is a New York–based Republican strategist.
On May 29, President Donald Trump came out against the Senate candidacy of Alabama Republican Roy Moore, via a tweet, his preferred method of communication:
...If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories. Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating....Judges and Supreme Court Justices!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2019
If the president was trying to scare Moore off, it didn’t work. On Thursday, the former state Supreme Court chief justice announced he’s running once again, seeking a rematch against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
President Trump should do everything in his power (legally of course) to stop Moore from running — or get him to drop out. It’s in his interest to do so: Trump’s own reelection is on the line here.
Let’s take a step back to reflect on why Moore is so toxic.
In 2017, Jones defeated Moore in a special election by 22,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast to fill the seat previously held by Jeff Sessions, who became Trump’s attorney general. This came after Moore defeated the appointed U.S. senator, former Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange, in a primary runoff that pitted Moore against the GOP establishment — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump both lined up with Strange.
Alabama is as red of a state as they come. Trump won it in 2016 with 62 percent of the vote. No one ever thought Alabama would elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, including this Republican.
Then came a Washington Post story titled “Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32.” Three other women told the Post they were pursued by Moore when they were between the ages of 16 and 18. None of these three women claimed Moore forced them into any kind of sexual contact.
In total, nine women came forward making similar allegations. We learned that Moore was even banned from a mall after he was caught repeatedly trying to pick up underage girls.
That was enough for many national leaders to rescind their endorsement, including McConnell. Even the Republican National Committee cut off funding to Moore, at least for a while, only to reinstate its financial support after Trump’s endorsement. It now appears that the president has had second thoughts about supporting an accused child molester.
But the stakes for this race are even bigger. Trump will be running for reelection, and he probably does not want to answer questions about supporting a child molester. This will not only play out badly in Alabama but it will also have national consequences for the president and every other Republican running for office.
While polls are only a snapshot of where things stand today, they show the president is facing an uphill climb. One of many things the 2018 midterms showed us is that suburban women are against Trump and it will be very hard to get them into his column. So here’s an idea: Stop Moore.
There is a risk that an overt attack could backfire. As one anonymous GOP senator told Politico: “We will do everything we can to stop him. But we need to be careful about that. We have to be more elegant.” But Trump is always best when wielding the hammer instead of using the scalpel.
Trump must put his Twitter thumbs to his nonsecure phone and tweet nonstop and without forgiveness. He should speak publicly against Moore. His super PAC should run a few relentless ads letting Moore know what to expect.
We know that President Trump doesn’t believe in putting our country first — but we know that he is extremely comfortable putting his own interests above all. In this case, let’s hope that the president puts his self-interest first and stops a child molester from becoming a U.S. senator. He may be the only person who can do it.