(CNN) — President Donald Trump on Monday called Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore and endorsed his campaign, fully aligning himself with the embattled Republican candidate eight days before the special election.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said Trump and Moore “had a positive call” during which they “discussed the state of the Alabama Senate race.”
According to a release from the Moore campaign, Trump called the Senate candidate a “fighter,” and wrapped up the call by saying, “go get ’em, Roy!”
“I am honored to receive the support and endorsement of President Donald Trump,” Moore said in a statement. “President Trump knows that the future of his conservative agenda in Congress hinges on this election. I look forward to fighting alongside the President to strengthen our military, secure our border, protect our gun rights, defend the sanctity of life, and confirm conservative judges to courts around this nation. We had a good conversation over the phone today and are working together towards conservative victory on December 12.”
Trump fully endorsed on Twitter earlier Monday morning, despite his hesitancy to throw his full support behind the embattled Republican candidate in the wake of explosive accusations against him. His tweet Monday came as recent polls show a close race.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Trump tweeted. “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!”
The President went on to rail against Moore’s Democratic opponent in the race, Doug Jones.
“Putting Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders…& so much more,” Trump tweeted.
Last month, The Washington Post published a bombshell report on allegations based on interviews with more than 30 people. One woman alleged she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her. The legal age of consent in Alabama is 16. After the report, another woman came forward to accuse Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Moore vehemently denies the allegations.
In the initial aftermath of the report, Trump remained mum in public and his staff suggested the President did not support Moore because he was not campaigning in Alabama. But last week, the White House announced that Trump will hold an event in Pensacola, Florida — just 25 miles from the Alabama border — later this week. Late last month, he all but endorsed Moore.
“He denies it. Look, he denies it,” Trump said of Moore. “If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And look, you have to look at him also.”
Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said in an interview Monday on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump has “been clear” about his concerns with Moore but that securing another Republican vote for a potential tax reform bill is “a factor to consider.”
“(Trump) is making the point that in one of our best opportunities for significant tax relief … we couldn’t muster any support from Democrats,” he said.
Short also cast doubt on the allegations of sexual abuse made against Moore. He said Trump felt that “when allegations arise 38 years later — when Roy Moore has been a very public figure for those 38 years, he’s run multiple times statewide in Alabama, the people of Alabama have an opportunity to choose and make decisions about Roy Moore’s character — that there are certain questions that come about the timing of these allegations.”
“Putting all of that together,” Short continued, “(Trump) is encouraging the people of Alabama to make the right decision and also acknowledging that there was not a single Democrat in the United States Senate who supported massive tax relief for the American people, and that would put (Democratic candidate) Doug Jones in a very difficult position.”
Moore has faced several critics within his own party in the Senate, but as his campaign has endured the allegations, some have softened their stance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, told reporters in November that he believed the women who accused Moore of sexual harassment, and urged him to withdraw from the Senate race. But on Sunday, he said the people of Alabama should “make the call” on Moore.