Bannon Finds New Fight Backing Roy Moore, but Risks Are High (NYT)

Bannon Finds New Fight Backing Roy Moore, but Risks Are High

http://nyti.ms/2Ae5G4i

But the only person who may have more on the line than Mr. Moore is Mr. Bannon, who is risking his own campaign to topple Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, as well as other incumbent Republican senators across the country.

Mr. Bannon, who never publicly questioned Mr. Moore after the allegations first surfaced last month, has seen a fortuitous turn of events ahead of the rally here. Mr. McConnell, who had urged Mr. Moore to get out of the race after The Washington Post reported that a woman had accused the former judge of touching her sexually when she was 14, softened his insistence over the weekend and said that he was “going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”

Then on Monday came an endorsement from Mr. Trump. The president, who had stayed away from explicitly encouraging Alabamians to vote for Mr. Moore, though he did cast doubt on the veracity of his accusers’ claims, called Mr. Moore to offer his encouragement, and said on Twitter: “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more.”

Less than 12 hours later, the Republican National Committee reversed course and said it was reinstating the support it had pulled from Mr. Moore, lending his struggling campaign a crucial lifeline of manpower and financial support as the race enters its final week.

The Republican Party now finds itself in a situation remarkably similar to the one it was in last year with Mr. Trump: grudging acceptance of a nominee facing repeated allegations of inappropriate conduct with women because the conservative electorate shows no inclinations of walking away.

During the rally, Mr. Bannon tore into Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who this week declared Mr. Moore “a stain” on the party and the nation, and accused him of using his faith as an excuse for getting out of service in Vietnam. “You hid behind your religion,” Mr. Bannon thundered. “Do not talk to me about honor and integrity.”

Mr. Bannon has been building a larger footprint for himself and the website he leads, Breitbart News, which seemed to have as many people working the rally in Fairhope as the Moore campaign itself. Breitbart streamed the event on its website and its Facebook Live account and hosted three hours of programming from the venue on Sirius XM’s Patriot Channel.

Mr. Bannon added another media outlet to his broadening portfolio on Tuesday when he began hosting his old Sirius XM show, which he plans to return to more regularly now as he steps up his attacks on Mr. McConnell.

Matt Boyle, the Washington political editor for Breitbart, who was at the rally, said that the Moore story was tailor-made for the hard-right website. “We believe that this story really captures the war that we’re seeing between the deplorables, the voters of the Republican Party, and the establishment,” he said, using Hillary Clinton’s infamous insult of Trump supporters.

All signs, including the most recent polling, have pointed to a race that could swing either way.

Mr. Jones, in a speech streamed on his Facebook page on Tuesday, made an uncharacteristically strong denunciation of Mr. Moore, accusing him of humiliating Alabama. “Roy Moore has never, ever served our state with honor,” Mr. Jones said. “He has never, ever been a source of pride for the people of this state, only a source of embarrassment.”

And for his part, Mr. Moore has continued to push beyond the norms of political civility. Speaking to a Christian radio host on Monday, Mr. Moore implied that the liberal billionaire George Soros, a survivor of the Holocaust, was going to hell. “He is pushing an agenda and his agenda is sexual in nature, his agenda is liberal, and not what Americans need,” Mr. Moore said.

Before the rally on Tuesday, Dean Young, a senior adviser to the Moore campaign, was helping set up. Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, he scoffed at the notion that Mr. Moore was feeling the heat of a close race.

“Judge Moore doesn’t scare,” Mr. Young said. “He’s going to keep fighting for what he believes in the end. And that would be his God — and that’s the Christian God, let’s make this clear — and the country.”

“And he will continue to do that,” Mr. Young added, “once he gets to Washington.”

Kevin Spriggs, who owns three convenience stores in nearby Daphney, said that the election came down to a simple choice. “I don’t like the allegations; it made me uncomfortable,” he said as he waited for the speeches to begin. “But with Doug Jones you’re getting a real live Democrat.”

Mr. McConnell’s opposition to Mr. Moore, he added, was only strengthening the resolve of voters like him. “I consider myself a Republican activist. Yet I feel like my own leadership is shooting me in the back.”

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December 5, 2017 at 08:45PM