In the weeks leading up to Alabama's special Senate election, Trump’s team had said he would not be campaigning in the state for embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore. On Friday night, however, he got about as close as you can get to the state line, at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. Moore has now been accused of molesting multiple young women, and has repeatedly denied the allegations. During the rally, an activist group trolled Trump with an ad showcasing Ivanka's statements criticizing Moore and others who "prey on children."
The statements were made by the president’s daughter in mid-November, after her father ignored questions from the press about the accusations directed toward Moore. Ivanka spoke up, telling the AP, “There is a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” adding, “I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.” The comments reportedly angered the president, who had not yet announced his endorsement for Moore at that point.
The ad that trolled Trump’s rally last night was created by American Bridge, a progressive organization dedicated to "holding Republicans accountable." The truck remained outside the rally all night, where thousands of the president's supporters had gathered for a "Make America Great Again" rally.
At the rally, Trump encouraged voters in Alabama to "get out and vote for Roy Moore," telling the crowd, "We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it."
Accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore were first published by The Washington Post, who reported that the Senate candidate pursued a relationship with Leigh Corfman when she was only 14, and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Similar reports quickly followed, and my mid-November, eight women had accused Moore of pursuing them or molesting them at a young age. Moore has continuously denied the allegations against him, painting them as a liberal conspiracy to bring down his campaign.
Following the allegations made by Corfman, Moore’s campaign claimed to have documents proving that the then-assistant district attorney did not assault her back in the ‘70s. When asked by The Washington Post for proof of the documents, campaign strategist Brett Doster called the newspaper "a worthless piece of crap that has gone out of its way to railroad Roy Moore."
The Moore campaigns efforts to portray the mainstream media as dishonest appear to have worked with Alabama voters, at least according to the polls. A recent poll found that 71 percent of the state’s Republicans believe the allegations are false — of these voters, 88 percent believe the media made up the allegations against Moore.
From the looks of the crowd at the rally in Pensacola last night, American Bridge’s message could have fallen on deaf ears. While it’s impossible to know how many of the attendees came out for Moore, USA Today reported that the crowd booed at mention of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, as Trump stressed that Alabama could not send someone to Washington that will be at their helm.
Both Democrats and Republicans have had to reckon with sexual harassment charges brought against some of their most powerful leaders in recent weeks. Amid pressure from fellow Senate Democrats, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced plans to resign on Thursday after multiple women came forward to accuse him of harassment (Franken has acknowledged the allegation by Leeann Tweeden to be true, and denied other women's accusations). In his speech, Franken did not apologize for his actions, and said there was "irony" in the fact that Donald Trump remains in office, and Roy Moore could very well be elected to the Senate, while Franken is leaving.
As congressional leaders consider how to move forward with these accusations, it is worth remembering that 19 women have accused the president of sexual assault (allegations he has repeatedly denied). These accusations weren't enough to cost him the election. Will voters feel differently about Moore?