The Roy Moore ripple has already begun. The support the Alabama GOP Senate nominee has received from both President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) could mean trouble for GOP candidates across the nation in 2018.
Democrats are already taking aim at top GOP nominees in crucial Senate battles regarding Roy Moore. These nominees are being questioned whether they stand by the RNC’s decision to back Moore financially after the allegations that he had sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades ago have surfaced.
Even moderate Republicans are beginning to sound alarms about the impact Roy Moore will have on the national Republican brand.
“All things being equal, the Republican Party has set itself up for a wave election in 2018,” said GOP strategist Rick Tyler, a Trump critic.
“The seduction is now complete,” he said. “The GOP made a deal with the devil back in 2016 — the problem with making a deal with the devil is that the devil is always going to change the terms. The deal now has been changed to where the Republican Party is endorsing accused child molesters for public office. And I think that may be irreparable.”
Republican leaders have gone back and forth with Moore in the past month since a woman reported that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) head Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), initially challenged Moore to drop out of the race. The RNC and NRSC, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, both ceased raising funds for Moore.
When more allegations surfaced, including one woman who said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, some GOP leaders began talking about expelling Moore if he won.
But now that the latest polls are showing Moore regaining his lead over Democratic candidate Doug Jones, the GOP is once again changing course before the December 12th election. President Trump gave Moore a full endorsement on Monday and even called the candidate from Air Force One, ending the conversation saying, “Go get ‘em, Roy!”
The RNC followed the president’s lead on Monday night, reissuing its support for Moore with plans to fundraise for the Alabama GOP. In the last fundraising report before the election, Jones took in more than $10.1 million, compared to Moore, who only brought in about $1.7 million.
The change in the tide of support seemed to cause McConnell to soften his stance over the weekend. He said that Alabama voters should decide if Moore should be in the Senate.
Democrats have been quick to pounce on Republican support for Moore, hoping to use it as an issue against Republican candidates outside of Alabama. For instance, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), called on her challenger, state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), to tell Missouri voters where he stands on Moore. McCaskill may need this controversy. She is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators on the ballot in 2018. Trump won Missouri by nearly 20 points in 2016.
Democrats in Pennsylvania are using the same tactic. They called on Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) to say whether he agrees with Trump’s endorsement of Moore. Barletta is a Trump ally who is expected to win the GOP primary challenge and then face Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
Democrats in Wisconsin followed the now-familiar script, connecting the whole field of Republican candidates to Moore and the RNC’s decision.
And many are now focusing on the Senate race in Utah. Some believe that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will retire and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, will vie for his seat. Romney has taken a critical stance on Moore and Trump’s endorsement of him. Hatch defended Trump, and the president has urged him to run for reelection.
Democrats across the nation will take advantage of the Moore controversy and portray the GOP as selling out their values for a Senate seat. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) called for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to “do the right thing now or explain to voters later why standing with Washington Republicans was more important than standing up to a child molester.”
Jesse Ferguson, a former top aide to the DCCC, said that attacking Republicans on Moore lets Democrats portray the GOP as putting Trump and his wishes above morality.
“For voters who have concerns about President Trump, the fact that the Republican Party threw their principles overboard in order to do what the president demanded is a stark reminder for voters that Republicans in Congress’s top priority is President Trump,” Ferguson said.
Democrats also hope that top Republicans’ support for Moore will help them build on newfound success with female voters. However, that success may have been damaged due to the behavior of Sen. Franken, Rep. Conyers, and a couple other Congressman being accused of sexual misconduct.
“There was clearly a disconnect with Hillary and white, educated female voters. I don’t think that disconnection was necessarily a full embrace of Trump and all the baggage he brought to the conversation,” Former RNC chairman Michael Steele said.
“It’s a misguided calculation to think that those women are still going to be, after we’ve seen this year and particularly over the last few weeks, where the party has seemingly endorsed pedophilia and is much more inclined to believe the man accused of those actions rather than the women who are the victims,” he said.
Trump and his GOP allies are intently focused on the importance of another vote for their agenda in the Senate. They hope to achieve more legislative victories.
“I think he’s going to do very well. We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders, we want stopping crime, we want the things we represent,” Trump said Tuesday about Moore.
But other Republicans believe rolling the dice on Moore could be disastrous for the GOP and Trump, even if Moore wins.
“Saying that Roy Moore is unfit, and then saying he’s worth a tax vote is the worst kind of hypocrisy. They may have a short-term win here and get a vote, but I think they’ll pay for it in 2018,” Rick Tyler said. “If Trump thinks he has problems now, he can’t imagine what kind of problems he would have with a [Democratic] majority with subpoena power.”
Although you almost have to wonder, the attack on Moore (no matter if you support him or not) should have taken him down; it would have two years ago. However, US politics are very different now and once the dust settled Moore gained the ground he lost. If I repeat, IF Moore wins one must make take a step back and take an objective look and see if politics as we know it has changed forever, for the good or bad (depending on your point of view). Failure to do so could be a huge gamble for either party moving forward into 2018.
So where do you stand on this question? Will a Roy Moore win be positive or negative for the GOP in the future?