As eligible Alabamans prepare to go to the polls for a December 12 special election to fill the Senate seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, US President Donald Trump endorsed Republican candidate Roy Moore, accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting or harassing them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers.
As woman after woman came forward with new accounts of sexual assault and harassment, many national Republicans called on Moore, now 70, to step aside. Leigh Corfman said Moore had taken her into his house in the woods near Gadsden, Alabama, removed her shirt and pants, and assaulted her through her bra and underpants when she was just 14 and he was a 31-year-old rising star assistant county district attorney. Though Trump had previously characterized the women's accounts as "very troubling" and called on Moore to drop out should their stories prove true, on Monday he unequivocally endorsed the former judge, admitting on Twitter that he needs Moore's vote in Congress.
Republicans hold a 52-48 Senate majority. Most polls give Moore — a two-time Alabama state Supreme Court chief justice who was twice removed from office for defying federal law and other misconduct — the advantage with just a week to go until the election.
'Hold their nose'
No Democrat currently holds statewide office in Alabama — one of the most conservative US states. Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz told CNN that Alabama voters "very well may hold their nose and vote for" Moore over the Democratic candidate, former US Attorney Doug Jones.
According to Moore's campaign, Trump said he wanted a "fighter" such as the anti-LGBT jurist to push the president's agenda in Washington. "The America First agenda will #MAGA," Moore wrote, a reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. "Can't wait to help him #DrainTheSwamp."
Several women also say Trump assaulted them — ranging from groping to forced kissing. In a recording revealed just weeks before the November 2016 presidential election, Trump claimed to exploit his celebrity as a TV star to sexually assault women. That did not stop him from beating his female opponent in the 2016 presidential campaign with the support of a majority of men.
mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)