Trump ducks Moore scandal

Donald Trump loves nothing more than a good controversy. But the president isn’t touching the Alabama Senate race, the biggest talker in American politics right now.

Resisting the entreaties of GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump has steered conspicuously clear of the firestorm surrounding Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate accused of pursuing, and in some cases harassing, teenage girls.

Trump’s absence from the race has compounded GOP worries the party is about to lose a seat it has no business relinquishing to Democrats. Republicans say a denunciation of Moore from Trump, a beloved figure in Alabama despite his problems elsewhere, offers the only hope of keeping the seat in the party’s hands.

But Trump sees nothing but negatives in getting involved, according to three White House aides, who say they consider the options laid out by McConnell and his team far-fetched. Many Alabama Republicans are also Continue reading “Trump ducks Moore scandal”

NRSC poll: Moore trails Jones by 12

Republican Roy Moore is trailing Democrat Doug Jones by 12 points in the Alabama special Senate election, according to a poll conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee after five women accused Moore of pursuing them as teenagers.

Jones led Moore 51 to 39 percent, according to the survey taken Sunday and Monday. The NRSC withdrew its support for Moore after the Washington Post published the first allegations against Moore on Thursday, and the group’s chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said Moore should be expelled from the Senate if he wins on Dec. 12.

The poll shows a dramatic turn against Moore in Alabama: In early October, a committee poll had him leading by 16 points, and a survey early this month had him up by 9 points. Moore’s favorability numbers also tanked, from 49 percent in early October to 35 percent in the NRSC’s latest poll.

Several sources Continue reading “NRSC poll: Moore trails Jones by 12”

RNC cuts off Moore

The Republican National Committee is withdrawing its support for besieged Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, leaving him increasingly isolated as he confronts charges of sexual misconduct with teenagers.

The RNC is pulling out of a joint fundraising agreement it had with Moore, according to a senior party official briefed on the decision. It is also canceling a field program it had set up ahead of the state’s Dec. 12 special election. The committee had about a dozen paid canvassers in Alabama working for Moore. It will no longer transfer any money to the race.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel is expected to brief committee members on the decision on a Tuesday conference call.

Even before allegations surfaced against Moore, the committee believed he was in trouble. Internal RNC polling conducted around a week ago showed him leading his Democratic opponent by just two percentage points. The committee has been evaluating Continue reading “RNC cuts off Moore”

Romney moves toward Senate bid

Mitt Romney is edging closer to a 2018 Senate run.

The former GOP presidential nominee is huddling with Utah’s class of GOP power brokers, contacting the state’s major political donors, and hitting the trail for candidates running in local races amid mounting speculation that the state’s longtime senator, Orrin Hatch, will retire. Romney is also raising money for House and Senate Republicans, winning him favor with GOP leaders ahead of a treacherous midterm election.

Last week, Romney attended a high-profile gala in Salt Lake City hosted by the Sutherland Institute, a prominent conservative think tank. The event drew a number of notable Utah political figures, including Sen. Mike Lee and Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. Romney shared a table with former Gov. Mike Leavitt, a longtime supporter he’s been in touch with amid his deliberations. He also had a private conversation with the night’s featured speaker, conservative commentator Bill Kristol.

Continue reading “Romney moves toward Senate bid”

GOP faces wrenching call: Running with or away from Trump

Sweeping losses in Tuesday’s elections have exacerbated a growing rift inside the GOP over whether the party’s candidates should embrace President Donald Trump in next year’s midterms — or make a clean break.

With Trump’s approval ratings cratering in swing states across the country, some senior party strategists are imploring lawmakers to abandon the president. Others argue that shunning Trump and his populist base is simply out of the question and that anything other than a full embrace of the president would spell electoral disaster.

In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Republican Ed Gillespie tried to have it both ways — with disastrous consequences. Gillespie, who privately agonized about the degree to which Trump should be involved in the contest, refused to campaign with the president. But at the same time, he trumpeted Trump’s culture war issues in ads.

White House advisers spent Wednesday combing through the election results and fuming Continue reading “GOP faces wrenching call: Running with or away from Trump”

Trump in new robo-call: ‘Gillespie will help make America great again’

President Donald Trump has released a late robo-call expressing his support for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, according to a Republican familiar with the move.

In the call, Trump praises Gillespie and trashes Democratic candidate Ralph Northam.

“Hello, this is President Donald Trump, and so importantly I need you to vote for Ed Gillespie to be your new governor of Virginia,” Trump says in the call. “If you let Ralph Northam be governor, he will be a total disaster for your state. Northam is weak on crime, weak on immigration, and as your lieutenant governor, Northam has driven your economy right into a ditch, and he didn’t even show up to the most important meetings. He was always missing and nowhere to be found.”

Trump adds: “Like me, Ed is tough on crime and on the border. Ed will protect your family from crime, drugs and violence — something Continue reading “Trump in new robo-call: ‘Gillespie will help make America great again’”

Gillespie shuns Trump in biggest race of 2017

As the Virginia and New Jersey governors races draw to a close, one person is conspicuously absent from the trail: President Donald Trump.

The president hasn’t appeared in either campaign, an indication of his increasingly narrow political appeal and his growing inability to draw support in swing and liberal states. Trump’s absence in the competitive Virginia contest is especially striking: He is the first president since Richard Nixon, who at the time was in the throes of the Watergate scandal, not to campaign in its governor’s race.

Why Trump hasn’t appeared in Virginia is partly a function of his own wishes — Trump simply never expressed much interest in the race, several White House advisers said. But it also has to do with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie.

The administration made it clear to Gillespie that it wanted to be helpful however possible and was open to sending the president, three Continue reading “Gillespie shuns Trump in biggest race of 2017”