In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A national Democratic group is putting out a “predator alert” on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to try and convince Republican women to vote against the accused child molester on Tuesday.

American Bridge is launching a last-minute digital ad that begins with the sound of an emergency alert — and only gets darker from there.

“Roy Moore has infiltrated our Alabama communities and his rap sheet reads like a serial sexual predator,” the ad’s narrator says as prison rap sheet-like images with Moore’s face flash onscreen. “His record from the Alabama Supreme Court paints an even darker picture. Judge Moore has repeatedly sided with rapists and sexual predators. These aren’t Alabama values. On Tuesday, Dec. 12, vote no on Roy Moore.”


Nine women have accused Moore of initiating inappropriate sexual encounters, many of them when they were teenagers. One says Moore undressed both of them and put her hand on the front of his underwear when she was 14 years old, while another says she was 16 when Moore sexually assaulted her.

Moore also had a record of siding with defendants in sex crime cases while serving as a judge, according to reports.

Those accusations have consumed the race — and badly damaged Moore, creating a close race in deep red Alabama. Moore has inched ahead in recent public polls, but if Democrat Doug Jones gets enough African American support and wins over enough Republican women he could still pull off an upset on Tuesday.

The digital ad, shared first with TPM, is targeting the latter group: Republican women who don’t like President Trump. The ad has $15,000 behind it, a small but not insignificant amount for a statewide digital buy.

This story has been updated to reflect the full size of American Bridge’s ad buy.

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PENSACOLA, Fla — President Trump may have been in Florida on Friday night, but his mind was roughly 15 miles away.

Trump heartily endorsed Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore during a rally just over the Alabama border, while taking swipes at a woman who accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

“This guy’s screaming ‘We want Roy Moore.’ He’s right,” Trump said, pointing into the crowd more than 40 minutes into a speech in the Pensacola Bay Center, a local hockey arena adorned with “Trump-Pence Merry Christmas” signs.

Trump then took aim at Beverly Young Nelson, who has said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old — one of a number of women who has accused Moore of sexual misconduct towards them when they were teenagers. Nelson admitted in a Friday interview that a she has added a bit to the high school yearbook inscription she had said was from Moore — though she said it was just marking where and when he’d signed it, not a change to the inscription itself.

“You know the yearbook? Did you see that? There was a little mistake made, she started writing things in the yearbook. Oh, what are we going to do. Gloria Allred, anytime you see her you know something’s going wrong,” he said, referring to Nelson’s feminist attorney and Democratic activist.

Moore is locked in a tight race with Democrat Doug Jones, though he’s pulled back into the lead in most public polls. Part of the reason he seems to have inched ahead since Thanksgiving in spite of all the accusations against him is Trump’s tacit endorsement right before the holiday — and full embrace and re-endorsement earlier this week.

Trump made it clear he knew who his audience was — the Alabamians in the building, and the nearly quarter of the state that shares a media market with Pensacola.

“By the way just so I can satisfy this to everyone out here, how many people out there are from the great state of Alabama?” he asked as roughly half the crowd cheered.

“We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda which involves tough on crime, strong on borders, strong on immigration, we want great people coming into our country,” he said to cheers. “We want jobs, jobs, jobs. So get out and vote for Roy Moore.”

Moore wasn’t in the building, according to sources. But plenty of his supporters were around.

“I knew he was going to give a shout-out, but that was strong as new rope,” Trump’s Alabama state chairman Perry Hooper, a Moore supporter, told TPM after the speech. “He laid it out there. It’s about repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes, building the wall, and Doug Jones won’t be for any of that.”

Jeana Boggs, a Trump delegate at the Republican National Committee who worked for Moore for years and has been heavily involved in his campaign, sat next to Hooper in the second row in front of Trump’s podium.

“Since all the accusations came out, we consider that God’s going to take care of this, he’s going to expose all the lies,” she said, calling the race the “dirtiest” campaign she’s ever seen in five decades involved in campaigns, and saying that after multiple women accused Trump of sexual assault last fall it’s the “same road the liberals are taking” against Moore.

“We’re going to win. If God wants him there, he’s going to put him there,” she said.

Even some of the most ardent Trump backers who spoke to TPM, while never wavering in their support of Moore, weren’t sure how much Trump’s endorsement will help. But all were confident Moore will win, something that didn’t seem so sure a few weeks ago.

Penny Hall and her sister Lulu Raffilde backed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the primary against Moore, but said their support had nothing to do with Trump’s primary endorsement of Strange. 

They expressed a deep hostility to being told what to do by outsiders — even from a president they loved. That sentiment seems to be helping Moore, who has run hard against the Washington establishment, lumping in the media, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democrats.

“Alabama’s going to do what Alabama wants to do, no matter what,” Hall said.

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With government funding set to expire on Friday, the House of Representatives voted late Thursday afternoon to pass a two-week “continuing resolution” to keep the lights on until December 22. Nearly every single Democrat voted against the bill and nearly every Republican voted for it.

About an hour later, the Senate followed suit.

The short-term deal leaves a host of issues unresolved, including funding for the entire federal government for next year, the status of roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and the long-term fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired in October.

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After eight women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment over the past few weeks, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) took to the Senate floor Thursday morning announcing his resignation from his Senate in the “coming weeks.”

“Serving in the United States Senate has been the honor of my life,” Franken said, choking up as he read his remarks, and vowing to stay active in public life. “I may be resigning my seat, but I’m not giving up my voice.”

With his staff lining the wall of the Senate chamber, waving at him in support, and several of his Democratic colleagues watching his remarks with grim expressions, Franken noted that “all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously,” but defiantly claimed that some of the allegations against him are “simply not true.”

Of his previous apologies, Franken said: “I think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very different.”

“I know who I really am,” he declared.

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The controversial GOP tax overhaul passed the Senate by a razor-thin margin of 51 votes over the weekend, and the lawmakers who reluctantly put the bill over the top say their votes were secured by promises from President Trump and Republican leadership on an array of related and un-related issues—from health care market stabilization to protection for young immigrants.

Today, those promises are on shaky ground.

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Senate Democrats appear to have scored a recruiting coup that increases their slim chances at retaking the chamber.

Popular former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) will run for Senate, according to two local newspapers, giving Democrats a heavy-hitting candidate for long-shot seat.

Bredesen, who served two terms and left office with strong approval ratings in 2010, gives Democrats a well-connected and well-liked candidate who likely has a singular ability to win in the Republican-heavy state.

Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) decision to retire has created a slim opening for Democrats in the state. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is facing off against former Rep. Steven Fincher (R-TN) in the GOP primary.

National Democrats have courted Bredesen for months to run, seeing him as their best — and perhaps only — chance to win the seat in a state where President Trump won by 26 percentage points. And it sounds like they’ve got their man.

Senate Democrats are mostly on defense this year due to an unfavorable map with multiple red-state incumbents facing tough reelections. But putting Tennessee on the map gives them one narrow path back to the majority — especially if they can pull off an upset in Alabama’s special election next week.

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As Republicans in the House and Senate hash out their tax bill differences in a conference committee behind closed doors, with the goal of producing a final bill before the holiday break, conservative economists tell TPM that the policies likely to become law will wreak havoc on the country for many years to come. Though Republicans insisted repeatedly over the past few weeks that the $1.4 trillion in tax cuts, most of them geared toward wealthy individuals and corporations, would pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth, they presented no evidence to support their claims.

Instead, the economists and former government officials predicted, the bill will drive up the federal deficit, shrink and destabilize the health care market, exacerbate already historic income inequality, and pressure Congress to make deep cuts to the social safety net and government programs.

“I don’t see how this bill makes America great again,” said Bill Hoagland, a self-described “deficit hawk” Republican who worked for decades for the Senate Budget Committee and now serves as the senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center. “With the populist direction the country has gone in this year, it just doesn’t seem right to give big corporations a permanent tax cut and not individuals. And it’s an open question with those companies—will they translate that back into actual jobs and not into stock options and buybacks?” 

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Alabama Senate Democratic nominee Doug Jones came out swinging at Republican Roy Moore on Tuesday, drawing a sharp contrast between his career as a prosecutor and Moore, who faces allegations from multiple women of initiating sexual encounters when they were teenagers.

“I damn sure believe and have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail — not to the U.S. Senate,” Jones said in a Tuesday campaign speech that took on a more combative tone than in the past.

Jones is best known for reopening a cold case and successfully prosecuting KKK members who bombed a black church in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963, killing four young girls.

Nine women have come forward to accuse Moore of inappropriate sexual actions, including one who was 16 when she says he violently sexually assaulted her and another who was 14 when she says he initiated a sexual encounter. Before those accusations, he was best known for getting thrown off the Alabama Supreme Court twice for failing to follow the rule of law — and for his hardline theocratic views that his interpretation of the Bible supersedes the Constitution and harsh anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements.

In spite of that, he’s climbed back into a virtual tie with Jones in recent public and private polls — and President Trump doubled down on his endorsement of Moore on Monday, possibly further boosting his campaign.

Jones’s pointed line wasn’t his only broadside against Moore during the speech.

He also warned a Moore win would “be bad for business in Alabama, bad for the economy, and bad for our country” — and attacked Moore for coauthoring a classroom curriculum that taught women shouldn’t run for public office.

“Roy Moore was already an embarrassment to this state before nine courageous women chose to share their deeply personal and disturbing encounters with him from a time when he was a thirty-something year old Assistant District Attorney and they were only teenagers, one as young as 14,” he said.

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The Republican National Committee isn’t exactly scrambling the jets for controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after all.

The committee has agreed to give just $50,000 to the Alabama Republican Party and will not send any staff in to help Moore in the final week of his campaign after a lengthy series of negotiations with Alabama Republicans, two RNC committee members tell TPM.

“The party is giving money only to the state party of Alabama at the request of the three national committee members of the state and the governor, and they’re giving them $50,000 — no staff, just $50,000,” one RNC committee member told TPM, saying those decisions came after “a lot” of negotiations with the Alabama members as well as within the committee.

In the extended negotiation both of Alabama’s Republican National Committee members, Alabama GOP Chair Terry Lathan and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) all lobbied the RNC to come back in to help Moore. The national party had previously pulled its support and ended a joint fundraising account after multiple women accused Moore of sexual misconduct last month. The RNC’s final commitment to come back in for Moore didn’t occur until President Trump decided to reaffirm his endorsement Monday.

“The 50k is going to AL GOP,” another RNC committee member texted TPM, while confirming that Ivey and the trio of Alabama’s RNC committee members had lobbied RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and the national party to support Moore. “No RNC staff going to AL.”

That sum is a pittance in the realm of modern campaign funding, especially coming just a week before the election. The RNC’s decision not to send staffers also means it won’t help Moore in the biggest way it could, with a huge push to boost turnout for him using field staff. Those moves suggest that the RNC is doing the bare minimum to help Moore that it can get away with in light of Trump’s re-endorsement while attempting to keep its local members happy.

Moore has been outspent by Jones by a 10-to-1 margin, and a late infusion of cash and staff could help him close the gap and hang on to win in deep-red Alabama.

The RNC seems to be taking a much different approach than the president. Trump called Moore Monday morning to declare he’s still in Moore’s corner in spite of allegations from nine women that Moore acted inappropriately, including one who said he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and another who said he initiated a sexual encounter when she was just 14. While the White House has said Trump won’t head to Alabama for Moore before the election, he will campaign just over the state line in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday night in a town whose media market covers much of the southern third of Alabama. Trump allies including Steve Bannon are heading to the state to stump for Moore in the race’s closing days as well.

Moore has crept back into the race since Thanksgiving after the allegations knocked him flat, according to public and private polls, and those involved in the race believe both he and Democrat Doug Jones have a real chance to win.

Moore’s candidacy has torn the GOP apart, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walking back an earlier demand that Moore drop out of the race over the weekend and other Republicans lamenting Trump’s decision to come back in for Moore. Win or lose, he’s almost certain to create headaches for party leaders.

Spokesmen for the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment, while Lathan told TPM in a text message that she “will not comment on the amount of funds” but planned to release a statement soon about the RNC’s recommitment to the race.

In that statement, Lathan said Romney McDaniel had contacted her and “confirmed that the RNC is transferring funds to the Alabama Republican Party for the Roy Moore campaign.”

“We are grateful for the RNC’s partnership with the ALGOP in this race. We are also thankful for President Trump’s recent show of support in highlighting the major policy differences between the left-wing Democrat, Doug Jones, and the constitutional conservative, Republican Roy Moore,” she continued.

Another Alabama Republican close to the negotiations disputed the $50,000 figure, arguing it was still in flux and predicting their spending might end up being more than that.

“I consider it more development and investigation than negotiation,” that source said about the party’s offer, sardonically describing the RNC’s “exodus” from Alabama after Moore’s scandal broke amounted to just three staffers.

That source also downplayed the RNC’s ability to help bolster Moore’s limited field operations in the final week.

“I’m not asking for staffers, it’s too late in the game,” said the source, who said the RNC had reached out to the Alabama state party about possibly helping and that Alabama Republican National Committeeman Paul Reynolds had called them back after Trump called Moore Monday morning to push them to make good on previous commitments for help.

It remains to be seen whether the committee will end up doing more for Moore than this minimal support. But for now, it doesn’t appear the cavalry is riding to Alabama.

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President Trump is riding to Roy Moore’s rescue in Alabama one week from election day.

Trump called Moore on Monday to heartily re-endorse him, a move that’s likely to help boost Moore as he seeks to survive multiple accusations of sexual misconduct that have put his Senate campaign in jeopardy in deep-red Alabama.

The Republican National Committee decided to follow suit after Trump’s call, TPM confirmed Monday night, after the committee had earlier suspended its support of Moore. Though it’s as yet unclear what exactly they’ll do for Moore, last-minute aid to help bolster his weak fundraising, limited TV ads and limited field operation could make a crucial difference.

Those steps, and a Friday Trump campaign rally just over the state line in Florida, could make the difference in a close election in a state where the president remains popular — and where boosting turnout is all that matters.

“The president’s approval rating goes off the paper it’s so high. When the president says ‘this is why I need a Republican from Alabama,’ that matters,” Perry Hooper, Trump’s Alabama state chairman, told TPM on Monday. “That message will resonate strongly in Alabama.”

According to Moore’s campaign, Trump called Moore a “fighter” and closed the phone call from Air Force One by declaring “Go get ’em, Roy!” The White House confirmed that Trump called Moore and reaffirmed his endorsement.

That came just after Trump touted Moore’s campaign for the first time since nine women came forward to accuse Moore of acting inappropriately towards them — including one who said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old and another who said he sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Democrats admit Trump’s gambit could work in a close race, convincing reluctant Republicans loyal to Trump but worried about Moore’s temperament and past actions to turn out and vote on Dec. 12. The more aggressively Trump backs Moore, the more he could help.

Public and private polls show a tight race, and the biggest question on all sides remains who will turn out in an oddly timed election where Moore and Jones are the only candidates on the ballot. While Trump’s popularity has sagged nationally, he remains well-liked in Alabama, where he sports some of his highest approval numbers of any state, and is beloved by the most of the state’s GOP base. Moore has bounced back in the polls since Thanksgiving, pulling even with or ahead of Jones in recent surveys after trailing him in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, though strategists in both parties admit they have little idea who is likely to turn out next Tuesday.

And while Jones is outspending Moore 10-to-1 on advertising and has a much larger and more professionalized field operation, a bit of a push from Trump narrows Jones’ narrow path to victory even further in a state no Democratic candidate has won in the past decade.

“What Trump can do is help join the barrage of people cruelly attacking these accusers and normalize an accused pedophile because Trump has been very successful at attacking his own accusers,” one national Democrat monitoring the race told TPM. “If you’re a Trump supporter looking for an out [to vote for Moore], this gives you one.”

The White House has said the president won’t campaign in-state for Moore. But he’s doing the next-best thing, with a Friday campaign stop in Pensacola, Florida  — a site that’s just 15 miles from the Alabama border in a town whose media market covers roughly a quarter of the state. When TPM asked Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who Trump was targeting with the rally, he didn’t mince words: “Alabama.”

Trump’s campaign has been making robocalls featuring Lara Trump advertising the event all over the state of Alabama, according to sources, and it’d be unlike Trump to avoid any mention of Moore during the event.

“Trump’s still got a good following down there,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said Monday on Capitol Hill.

Trump’s endorsement may help win the battle for the seat, but many in the GOP worry a Senator Moore could do further damage to the party’s image that has already been hurt by Trump.

“It’ll be difficult enough for Republicans without us being the party of Roy Moore,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a frequent Trump critic, told TPM Monday night.

Trump’s allies have already been rallying to Moore’s side.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will appear with Moore on Tuesday night, rejoining a man he backed during a hard-fought primary against Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who had the backing of most of the GOP establishment and reluctant support from Trump. The grassroots group Bikers for Trump also rallied for Moore on Sunday.

Other Republicans who’d previously shunned Moore have softened their criticisms in recent days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who’d called on Moore to drop out of the race in the wake of the allegations, said it should be up to “the voters of Alabama to decide” whether or not to elect him on Sunday.

Trump’s re-endorsement comes after weeks off GOP lobbying on the race, with top Trump advisers and allies including Bannon and Kellyanne Conway pushing for him to stand by Moore while others including McConnell fought hard for him to cut Moore loose. Trump decided the accusations against Moore mirrored those from 17 women who accused Trump of sexual harassment during last year’s campaign, sources told TPM.

“I talked to Jared Kushner, I talked to Eric Trump and Eric’s wife [Lara], [White House Deputy Chief of Staff] Rick Dearborn and others who work in the West Wing … they just know they need another Republican vote and they can’t afford to lose another Republican vote,” Hooper told TPM.

Trump’s campaign and the White House declined to discuss any further steps Trump might take for Moore.

Jones’ campaign believes that Trump can only make so much of an impact, pointing out that Moore beat his favored candidate in the primary and arguing that Alabama voters have made up their mind on Moore.

“This is an Alabama race. It doesn’t seem to matter what outside folks say, even if it’s the president it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of impact. Roy Moore’s a pretty known quantity, people know why they’re worried about him or why they’re not,” Jones adviser Joe Trippi told TPM.

But Trippi conceded that the race is all about turnout rather than converting swing voters at this point — an area where Trump might have a big impact.

“This isn’t about changing anyone’s mind. I don’t believe that’s what they’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s about can they get people out to vote.”

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