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The Republican Party is back on board with accused child molester Roy Moore

The GOP is falling into a familiar pattern in looking past sexual misconduct allegations.

GOP Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore Holds Campaign Rally
Judge Roy Moore.
Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covered business and economics for Vox and wrote the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Just hours after President Donald Trump explicitly backed Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the Republican National Committee is reinstating its support of him. Moore has multiple allegations of child molestation and assault and inappropriate sexual behavior against him.

The RNC, which just three weeks ago withdrew its support for Moore and pulled out of a joint fundraising agreement with him, is back in his corner, according to several media reports. Breitbart News was first to report the decision.

Moore is engaged in an unexpectedly tight race against Democrat Doug Jones for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s US Senate seat.

The election has drawn national attention in light of several allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore. In November, the Washington Post published the accounts of four women with stories about Moore, including Leigh Corfman’s, who said that she was just 14 when she engaged in two sexually inappropriate meetings with Moore, who was then 32, in 1979. Other accusers have since come forward.

Republicans initially backed away from Moore as the allegations surfaced, but in recent days, both elected officials and Alabama voters appear to have gotten over the whole accused-child-molester thing.

“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

Trump called Moore on Monday in what White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah described as a “positive” conversation in which Trump endorsed Moore’s campaign. Moore tweeted about the call as well.

Trump will appear at a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday — 20 miles from the Alabama border, four days before the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has said he believes Moore’s accusers and called for the candidate to step aside, has softened his tone as well, saying it’s up to Alabama voters to decide.

“The people of Alabama are going to decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate,” McConnell said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “It’s really up to them. It’s been a pretty robust campaign with a lot of people weighing in. The president and I, of course, supported somebody different earlier in the process. But in the end, the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”

When pressed by CBS’s John Dickerson about whether he thought the Senate Ethics Committee should look into the Moore allegations if he is indeed elected, McConnell declined to weigh in definitively. “The Ethics Committee makes those decisions about whether behavior prior to the Senate is relevant or not. They will decide the parameters, if you will, of their jurisdiction,” he said.

The RNC will restore get-out-the-vote funds to Moore’s campaign, according to the New York Times, but the Senate Republican campaign arm, McConnell controls, has no plans to offer financial help. The RNC has not yet issued any public statements announcing its exact plans for re-engaging with Moore.

The GOP is falling into a familiar pattern in looking past sexual misconduct allegations

In shunning and then shifting back toward Moore, Republicans are following a similar pattern to what they did with Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Soon after Trump was caught bragging about sexual assault in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape and accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by more than a dozen women, several Republicans denounced him and withdrew their support. And many later got back into his corner.

It’s not just Republican leadership that is now warming up to Moore in Alabama but voters as well.

Moore led Jones in most public polls before the allegations against him surfaced publicly; according to RealClearPolitics he was up by about 6 points on average. His support declined sharply afterward — a mid-November Fox News poll showed Jones with an 8-point lead.

Now, multiple recent polls show the race between Moore and Jones is essentially neck and neck with election just a week away on December 12. Moreover, a CBS News poll released on Monday found that 71 percent of Alabama Republicans say the allegations against Moore are false.

According to the Washington Post, the RNC’s decision to again back Moore comes as the Alabama race has caused tensions between RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and the White House. Trump has expressed frustrations that the RNC backed away, the Post reported, and McDaniel wanted to “quickly show the president that the RNC was loyal.”

To be sure, not everyone in the GOP is on board with Trump and the RNC’s Moore backing, including Mitt Romney, McDaniel’s uncle. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee said in a tweet on Monday that Moore in the Senate would be a “stain” on the Republican Party and the nation. “No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity,” he wrote.

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