White House doesn’t call for Moore to exit race

The White House on Thursday stopped short of calling on Republican candidate Roy Moore to drop out of the Alabama Senate race, saying it should be up to the voters of Alabama to decide his future.
“The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. 
Asked if Moore should exit the race, Sanders said “that is a decision the people of Alabama need to make, not the president.” 
{mosads}Sanders later said the president had no plans to campaign for Moore. Sanders declined to say whether she thought Moore was a “creep,” in response to a direct question.
Sanders wouldn’t directly address whether Trump will withdraw his endorsement of Moore, which he made after Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the GOP primary, the candidate Trump backed along with Republican leadership.
She added that the president “supported the decision” by the Republican National Committee to withdraw resources from this race.
These were the first White House comments on Moore since Trump arrived back in Washington this week from a nearly two-week trip to Asia. 
Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct, including assault, by more than half a dozen women, who all said the incidents took place when they were teenagers. 
The allegations have enveloped Moore’s campaign and raised the possibility Democrats could win a Senate seat from Republicans in deep-red Alabama.
The response will surely disappoint Republicans in Washington, who have ramped up pressure on Trump to speak out against the Alabama Senate candidate in an effort to force him from the race.
The president has spoken to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the days since his return. Both leaders have called on the former state Supreme Court chief justice to exit the race. 
But White House officials say there is little upside for the president if he decides to call on Moore to drop out of the race because they believe Trump’s ability to affect the outcome in Alabama is limited. 
Despite calls from GOP leaders to exit the race, Alabama Republicans have almost unanimously stuck by Moore. If Trump intervenes, it could backfire and embolden Moore’s supporters. 
Key figures in Trump’s base, including former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon have stuck by Moore, complicating the president’s political calculus.

Moore has vigorously denied the allegations and promised to stay in the race.

Sanders also addressed speculation the president is staying silent on Moore due to a number of allegations of sexual misconduct made against Trump by multiple women during the 2016 presidential race.

“The president has certainly a lot more insight into what he personally did or didn’t do, and he spoke out about that directly during the campaign,” she said. Trump denied the allegations.

Updated 4:04 p.m.
Tags Luther Strange Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan

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