Cameron_joseph_profile2

Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) has regained a slight lead against Democrat Doug Jones in the first post-Thanksgiving poll, a sign that while the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have bruised his campaign, he’s not done yet.

Moore leads Jones by 49 percent to 44 percent in a new online survey from Change Research, reversing a small 3-point lead Jones had held in the pollster’s first survey after the allegations against Moore surfaced two weeks ago.

The poll shouldn’t be taken as gospel: It was conducted completely online using a methodology some pollsters are still wary of; no single poll should be used to fully judge a race; and the pollster isn’t well-established in the industry, so there’s no lengthy track record to judge it by.

But the survey provides the first public numbers of where the race is since Alabama voters have had time to digest the accusations of nine women that Moore acted inappropriately towards them, including one who accused him of sexual assault when she was 16 years old and another who was 14 when she says Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her. Moore has denied the allegations.

Polls conducted in the immediate aftermath of the accusations and before Thanksgiving painted a mixed picture of the race, with Moore leading by as much as 10 and Jones leading by as much as 6 points, though all pollsters showed a shift towards Jones since the allegations surfaced.

Moore held a narrow 47 percent to 45 percent lead in a one-day Strategy Research survey released last Monday, numbers that were actually good news for Jones since that pollster had found him trailing by 11 in its previous two surveys.

The online poll of 1,868 self-reported Alabama registered voters was conducted from Nov. 26-27.

Read More →

President Trump won’t campaign with Alabama Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore after floating the idea last week, according to the Associated Press.

A White House official tells the AP that Trump won’t head to Alabama to help Moore, whom Trump is standing by even as other party leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have moved to dump him.

Trump stuck by his endorsement of Moore last week even though nine women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct — including a number who say they had encounters with Moore when they were teenagers. In a brief conversation with reporters, Trump questioned whether those women were telling the truth, attacked Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, and said he’d let them know this week whether or not he’d stump with Moore.

He’s doubled down on the anti-Jones attacks in recent days.

Even if Trump won’t campaign with Moore, his support is providing cover for the controversial candidate as he tries to weather the storm of accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, initiated a consensual sexual encounter with a 14-year-old, and regularly hit on teenagers. It’s unclear whether Trump will go further than his current tweets backing Moore and record robocalls or campaign ads for the embattled Republican, whose campaign struggles could risk the GOP’s control of the Senate.

White House officials didn’t immediately respond to requests from TPM to confirm the AP’s report.

Moore, for his part, has blamed everyone from Democrats to journalists to McConnell and establishment Republicans for trying to scuttle his campaign.

In a new TV spot, he attacks all three groups while not mentioning Jones.

“Roy Moore has been intensely scrutinized, and not a hint of scandal,” the ad’s narrator says. “But, four weeks before the election, false allegations — a scheme by liberal elites and the Republican establishment to protect their big government trough.”

Most polls taken since the scandal broke two weeks ago show a close race, with the accusations taking a toll on Moore.

Read More →

A prominent right-wing preacher who appeared alongside Senate candidate Roy Moore at a campaign rally just days ago said that Moore dated teen girls because of their “purity” and because when he got back from Vietnam there weren’t any women his age left to date.

Pastor Flip Benham told a local Alabama radio show on Monday that there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teenage girls.

“Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, was a younger woman,” Benham said on WAPI 99.5 FM Monday evening. “He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”

Moore himself has strenuously denied accusations from multiple women that he made inappropriate sexual advances on them when they were teens — including one who says he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and another who says he initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14.

But while Moore said he didn’t “generally” date teen girls when he was in his early 30s during an interview with right-wing host Sean Hannity shortly after the first accuser came forward, he suggested he may have done so after asking their parents’ permission.

And while he didn’t start dating his wife Kayla until she was in her early 20s, he’s said that he first spotted her at a dance recital when she was a teen.

Benham, a controversial anti-gay pastor who Moore had onstage to defend him at a campaign rally less than a week ago, seemed to suggest there was nothing wrong with Moore dating teen girls.

And he went on to argue there was nothing wrong with Moore dating a girl as young as 14 with her parents’ permission — though he balked when the radio hosts asked him if he felt the same way about a 10-year-old.

Benham’s interview was first noticed nationally by the liberal media watchdog group Right Wing Watch.

Read More →

After almost two weeks of ducking questions on whether he still backs Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, President Trump made it clear Tuesday that he stood by his endorsement.

“We don’t need a liberal Democrat in that seat,” Trump said as he exited the White House Tuesday. “We don’t need a liberal person in there.”

And Trump defended Moore, who like Trump has faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from numerous women.

“Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. And by the way, he totally denies it,” Trump said when asked if he believes Moore or the nine women that have accused Moore of inappropriate sexual actions, many of them when they were teens. “And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time.”

Trump told reporters that he’ll announce “next week” if he’ll campaign for Moore ahead of the Dec. 12 special election.

Trump’s decision to stand by Moore — who he heartily endorsed after he defeated Trump-backed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the GOP primary — comes after heavy lobbying from top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway as well as former top Trump adviser and Breitbart News head Steve Bannon.

It marks a major split with other Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and a number of other top Republicans have called on Moore to drop out of the race, though the Alabama Republican Party has stuck by Moore. Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka came out to say she believed Moore’s female accusers and said “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children” — comments that are being featured in Democratic opponent Doug Jones’ campaign ads.

As Trump was defending Moore at the White House, Moore’s embattled campaign held a press event attempting to poke holes in the stories of two of the women accusing Moore.

They went after Leigh Corfman, who has said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old, claiming court documents they found showed she had “disciplinary problems,” while trying to knock down details in the accounts of both Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, who has said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old.

They refused to take questions while attacking reporters during the so-called “press conference.”

“You’ve got to understand, Alabamians, that the world is watching you,” Moore ally Dean Young said during the event. “The question is can you be tricked, can you be tricked, because all hell is coming to Alabama against Judge Roy Moore. … We have to show the world that we’re not a bunch of idiots, we’re not a bunch of sheep.”

And Young accused Jones for supporting transgender people, using an interesting line of attack given the allegations that Moore molested teenage girls.

“[Jones] is for transgenders going into little girls bathrooms, boys pretending they’re girls going into little girls’ bathrooms in the school,” he said.

“We believe Judge Moore, we don’t believe these women,” he continued.

Read More →

Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore on more than one occasion cited murderous cult leader Charles Manson’s “family” to argue why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

Moore, a religious conservative crusader whose Senate campaign is on the rocks because multiple women have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct with them (many when they were teenagers), argued on at least two occasions that legalizing gay marriage would lead to polygamy and allow mass murdering Manson to marry multiple women from his cult.

“It’s not a question of equal protection of law. Every person has the right to marry someone of the opposite gender. That’s always been true, that’s equal protection,” Moore said in early 2015 during a radio interview. “You can’t extend equal protection, say everybody’s got a right to marry anybody they want to, because then you can say Charles Manson had a family and we’ve got to recognize that family.”

Manson, a cult leader whose followers gruesomely murdered seven people including pregnant actress Sharon Tate in 1969, died on Sunday.

That radio interview isn’t the only time Moore used Manson to argue against gay marriage.

During an interview for the 2015 documentary “The State of Being Human,” Moore argued with documentarian David Merriman that gay marriage would lead to Manson-like polygamy.

You know who Charles Manson was? He had a family didn’t he? Well, it was called Charles Manson’s family, wasn’t it?” he said during a back-and-forth with Merriman. “But could they get married?”

When Merriman conceded Manson would legally have been allowed to marry one of his female followers, Moore fired back: “Why not two of them?”

That’s not the only slippery slope argument Moore made in his interview with Merriman — he also referenced bestiality and father-daughter incest.

“I have horses. My wife has horses. She loves her horse. Should she be able to marry her horse?” he asked.

Roy Moore from Dmi Video’s on Vimeo.

“Some men unfortunately love their daughter. And when she becomes of age, should they be able to get married?” he asked a minute later. “If it’s based on love, why shouldn’t a man be able to marry his daughter, and why shouldn’t a woman be able to marry her son?”

One woman has accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old, while another has accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Other women have accused Moore of making passes at them or taking them out on dates when they were teens, or groping them without their consent.

The Democratic outside group American Bridge found the references and shared them with TPM. Moore’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his remarks.

Read More →

The man that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) defeated in his 2008 race told TPM Friday that one of the closest Senate races in history likely would have gone his way had Franken’s sexual harassment been public at the time.

“You’ve got to believe that photo is worth more than 312 votes,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told TPM Friday morning, highlighting the exact margin of his 2008 loss to Franken a day after newscaster Leeann Tweeden came forward to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct in 2006 — and included photo evidence.

Coleman declined to further discuss the 2008 race and the current allegations, saying the picture of Franken “speaks for itself” and that he didn’t want to “sound like sour grapes.”

But the former senator is almost certainly right that he would have remained in the Senate if the accusations against Franken had come out before the election.

Coleman lost to Franken after one of the most bitter Senate races in recent memory — and an arduous legal battle afterwards that lasted eight full months, depriving Democrats of Franken’s vote in the Senate for the busy beginning of President Obama’s presidency.

Coleman initially led Franken on election night by 726 votes, a margin that shrank to 215 votes on an official count from the Minnesota secretary of state. The disputed election results then headed to a hotly contested recount — where Franken prevailed by a scant 225 votes. Coleman fought those results in court for months, eventually conceding in late June after the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the results.

But if the scandal that’s currently enveloping Franken had broken then, it’s hard to see how he would have defeated Coleman almost a decade ago, a result that would have deprived Democrats of a key Senate vote years.

Franken had to apologize during that campaign for controversial jokes he’d made in previous years — including a number of rape jokes.

“The things I said and wrote sent a message to some of my friends in this room, and the people in this state, that they can’t count on me to be a champion for women and for all people of Minnesota in this campaign and in the Senate. I’m sorry for that,” he said during the 2008 Democratic-Farmer-Labor state convention.

The allegations against Franken has quickly spurred a Senate Ethics Committee investigation that has the potential to end Franken’s career. And Tweeden’s damning photo is tailor-made for a campaign ad that could have ended Franken’s chances at the Senate.

Read More →

The Alabama Republican Party is officially standing by their man.

The state party put out a statement defending Roy Moore on Thursday afternoon, attacking “the media and those from afar” for meddling in Alabama’s Senate election, and encouraging voters to back him in the Dec. 12 election.

That statement comes in spite of the growing list of women who have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual acts, up to nine as of Thursday afternoon, and calls from national Republicans for Moore to drop out. The accusations include Moore asking multiple teen girls on dates, sexually assaulting one of them, having a sexual encounter with another when she was 14 years old to groping another woman without her permission.

“The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said in a statement. “Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him. He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”

As TPM reported Thursday morning, the state party decided in a Wednesday night meeting to stand by Moore rather than disqualify his nomination. But the statement defending Moore is a step further than some state Republicans expected — especially following heavy criticism from the national party and demands that Moore drops out from lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who opposed Moore in the primary.

Moore has steadfastly refused to drop out of the race, and has some close allies on the state party committee. While some others on the 21-person committee want him gone, many are afraid of Moore’s rabid base, as some are running for office in the state and face primaries.

“This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and they will not stand for it,” he said at a Thursday rally before refusing to answer reporters’ questions about whether he’d dated any teenage girls when he was in his 30s, or whether he’d inappropriately touched any of them.

According to Buzzfeed, his supporters aggressively yelled at reporters after the event for daring to ask Moore questions.

Here’s Latham’s full statement:

“The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.” 

“Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him. He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”

“There is a sharp policy contrast between Judge Moore, a conservative Republican who supports President Trump, and the liberal Democrat who will fight and thwart the agenda of our president. We trust the Alabama voters in this election to have our beloved state and nation’s best interest at heart. 

“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election- not the media or those from afar.”

“We are very grateful for the multitudes that have reached out to us with support and prayers. We ask God to guide us, politically and personally, with His mighty strength and wisdom. In turn, we also pray that justice and truth will prevail for all involved in this situation.”

Read More →

The Alabama Republican Party decided not to disqualify Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy at a Wednesday night meeting, likely ending the GOP’s best hope to get rid of Moore before the Dec. 12 election.

After hours of tense deliberation, the 21 members of the state party’s steering committee decided not to do anything for the time being — rejecting arguments from some who wanted to pull their support from Moore as well as Moore loyalists who wanted the party to issue a public statement defending him.

That do-nothing approach means the party is still behind Moore — and has no plans to un-endorse him, the only way they could make almost certain Moore won’t become Alabama’s next senator. If they had disqualified him, under Alabama law, he’d still be on the ballot but any votes for him wouldn’t count.

That (non)decision, confirmed by TPM, comes after Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan warned earlier this week that any Republicans pledging to oppose Moore or back a write-in could be thrown out of the party and denied ballot access — a major threat to the quarter of the steering committee’s members, who are running for local office next year.

It never looked likely that the group would move to ditch Moore — crossing his rabid in-state supporters could be political suicide for many on the committee, and hurt their careers. But its members’ cautious approach forecloses on the best chance for the party to rid itself of Moore, who has adamantly refused to drop out even as the list of women who accuse him of unwanted groping, sexual overtures when they were teenagers and sexual assault grew to nine people Wednesday night.

That decision comes as national Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) grow increasingly desperate in their quest to find a way out of the no-win situation, where Moore either loses and costs them a must-have Senate seat or wins and comes to Washington a toxic figure that will further damage the party brand ahead of 2018 and give McConnell regular headaches.

McConnell’s team is assessing the legal feasibility of convincing appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) to quit the race now in order to let Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) call a new special election at a later date.

But that plan seems like an even longer shot than previously discussed plans to push a write-in candidate. Strange told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that he won’t resign and plans to finish his term. And even if McConnell could convince Strange to do otherwise, Ivey has repeatedly said she will not move the Dec. 12 election — and has also said if Strange does resign she’d just appoint a caretaker to the seat until the December election’s winner can be sworn in.

“The election date is set for Dec. 12. Were he to resign I would simply appoint somebody to fill the remaining time until we have the election on Dec. 12,” Ivey told AL.com.

And even if Ivey and Strange change their minds and go along, experts say the move may not even be constitutional.

Read More →

In a bizarre Wednesday press event, Roy Moore’s embattled campaign demanded the high school yearbook of the woman who has accused him of violently sexually assaulting her.

Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead and attorney Phillip Jauregui accused Moore’s latest accuser of lying about his sexually assaulting her when she was 16 — and want to get their hands on the yearbook the woman showed at her press conference that included a flirty note allegedly written by Moore.

“We demand that you immediately release the yearbook to a neutral custodian… so that our expert can look at it,” Jauregui said.

But neither he or Armistead offered any proof that any of the five women accusing Moore of inappropriate sexual interactions when they were teenagers — including one who says she was 14 ears old when Moore undressed her — were lying.

Both refused to take questions from reporters, and neither offered a shred of evidence that either was lying.

The hastily arranged press event occurred just as the Alabama Republican Party steering committee was about to begin a meeting to determine whether it would pull Moore’s endorsement and disqualify his candidacy, back his campaign, or do nothing and let the situation play out. It was held outside state party headquarters, where the party was holding the meeting, though many members planned to call in.

He also claimed that Moore had been the judge who presided over the woman’s divorce in the late 1990s, a claim that he said contradicted her claim that she’d never seen him since he assaulted her. The lawyer didn’t offer any specific evidence that Moore and the accuser had contact during the divorce case, however.

“Judge Moore has been falsely accused of something he did not do 40 years ago,” Armistead said. “We cannot just stand by idly and let false charges go without some answering.”

It’s unclear what Moore’s campaign hoped to accomplish with the abbreviated press event — not a press conference, which involves questions and answers with the media.

 

Read More →

The only group of people with the power to force nominee Roy Moore from the Alabama Senate race is heading into a crucial meeting Wednesday afternoon with no guidance from President Trump on what to do.

The Alabama Republican Party steering committee, the only organization that could revoke Moore’s endorsement and disqualify any votes for him, meets at 4 p.m. Alabama time, 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The meeting is the first time its 21 members will discuss whether to disqualify Moore as a candidate and possibly back a write-in campaign, publicly stand by him, or — the most likely option — do nothing and hope the problem goes away on its own.

While many members had hoped for an indication from the president on whether they should force Moore out, Trump didn’t address the issue in his first media appearance on U.S. soil since four women came forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers last Thursday — including one who said they had a sexual encounter when she was just 14 years old. A fifth woman has since come forward to say that Moore violently tried to force a relationship.

The president took no questions from reporters at the White House as he gave an extended statement on his recently completed Asia trip.

If Trump had decided to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and many other Republicans to call on Moore to drop out or lose the party’s support, the members of the committee who want Moore gone would have had much more political cover to push for his removal. Now, there may not be the energy to cut Moore loose.

“I’m not sure people have the courage to throw Moore off,” one senior Alabama Republican who has talked to multiple committee members told TPM Wednesday afternoon. “If they don’t do anything my assumption is they won’t meet again.”

The meeting comes as the pressure mounts from all corners of the national party for Moore to quit the race – something he’s defiantly refused to do.

On Tuesday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity gave Moore a 24-hour ultimatum to give “a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies” or drop out of the race — a major reversal after defending him on-air for days after the accusations dropped. That comes after both the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled their support.

But in Alabama, most in the GOP establishment seem very wary of pulling Moore’s support and enraging his supporters.

“I’d be real surprised if the president comes out one way or the other. He loves Alabama, Alabama loves him. Roy Moore won the election fair and square,” Perry Hooper, Trump’s Alabama campaign chairman, told TPM shortly before Trump spoke. “I think they keep everything as is, and if that’s the case that means they’re supporting the nominee. They don’t have to have any statement, they can just say he’s the nominee, period.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who told TPM Tuesday that he wanted the state party to yank its endorsement of Moore, said Wednesday that he’d “vote Republican — but I’ll probably write in a good candidate,” and wouldn’t vote for Moore.

But he was skeptical how much impact President Trump’s comments might have.

“He’d have to consider would it make any difference this late? Because if he weighed in, could we get another candidate? The problem is, could you substitute anybody, see?” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, Moore allies in the state sought to put added pressure on the state party to come out in favor of Moore, with two local organizations issuing statements of support for their candidate. Both local organizations, the Shelby County Republicans and the Fifth District Republicans, are run by people close to Moore’s two most vocal backers on the state steering committee.

Moore remains stubbornly defiant, attacking McConnell, the media and his female accusers.

And to add extra pressure to the state GOP, Moore’s campaign announced that it’ll be holding a press conference with Moore’s attorney in front of the Alabama Republican Party headquarters, where the meeting will take place, at the same time the meeting begins.

Read More →

LiveWire