On Monday evening, hours after The Washington Post published evidence of a 34-year-old Moore’s relationship with a 17-year-old, the Republican National Committee reinstated its support for the Alabama Senate candidate. The RNC had previously withdrawn from the race after a number of women credibly accused him of having inappropriate relationships with them—in some cases including sexual misconduct—when they were teenagers, decades ago. The RNC’s decision to reopen its relationship with Moore followed a full-throated endorsement from President Trump earlier in the day.
The decision to return to Moore mirrors one made by national Republicans just over a year ago. After a number of prominent Republicans backed away from Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood tape, most of them returned to the fold when Trump’s chances improved. Republicans are no longer suggesting that they may refuse to seat Moore if he’s elected; instead, most are insisting that Alabama’s voters are the jury, and will ultimately decide whether an alleged child molester is fit to serve in the United States Senate.
After Republicans initially abandoned Moore, his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, surged in the polls and the race become, according to polling averages, a tie. (Jones even led Moore in a series of polls.) But in recent weeks Moore has run a campaign targeting both his accusers and the national Republicans who abandoned him, and he has since bounced back. Now that it looks like he’ll win, Republicans are sheepishly getting back on the Moore bandwagon.