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White House backs Roy Moore in all but name

  • The White House seems to shift its message on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces allegations of sexual assault.
  • While Trump has yet to endorse Moore, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president "wants people in the House and Senate who support his agenda."
  • This message is a departure from the administration's previous talking points on Moore, which emphasized the allegations against him.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers questions at a White House briefing September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers questions at a White House briefing September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The White House on Monday appeared to shift its message concerning embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore: Focusing on Moore's potential to advance President Donald Trump's agenda, irrespective of the multiple sexual allegations against him.

Trump has yet to formally endorse Moore, but during a daily briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked directly whether Trump wants Moore to win the Senate seat.

"The president wants people in the House and Senate who support his agenda," Sanders said. The subtext was clear: Given the choice between Moore and his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, Trump "wants people" who are Republicans.

Sanders' message was a departure from the administration's previous talking points on Moore, released soon after the first wave of allegations against were published on Nov. 9. They included a statement which read in part, "The president believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."

In the nearly two weeks since the White House put out this statement, five more women have come forward with allegations against Moore.

But Moore shows no signs of stepping aside. Instead, he insists that the allegations are false, and part of "a desperate political attack" on his campaign.

Faced with a binary choice between Moore and Jones, the White House has sided with Moore.

Just hours before Sanders briefed reporters, White House communications aide Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News Channel, where she, too, refused to endorse Moore by name. Still, when it comes to the Alabama Senate election, Conway said, the White House wants "the votes in the Senate to get [GOP tax reform legislation] through."