The head of the House GOP’s campaign arm said Wednesday that the party’s stunning loss in the Alabama special Senate election the previous night was the result of a “Roy Moore problem.”
“This was mostly a Roy Moore problem, because campaigns are about candidates, they’re about the campaign you run and the fundraising that you have,” National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversGOP lawmakers say Steve King’s loss could help them in November Longtime GOP Rep. Steve King defeated in Iowa primary Five things to watch in Tuesday’s primaries MORE (R-Ohio) said on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.”
Democrat Doug Jones defeated Moore Tuesday night by about 1.5 percentage points, or roughly 20,000 votes. It is the first time a Democrat has won a Senate seat in Alabama in a quarter century.
Moore was plagued in the final weeks of the campaign by accusations from multiple women that he made advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
One woman claimed Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32, while another accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
Moore vehemently denied the allegations, though many Republicans in Washington called on him to drop out of the race.
Stivers was among those who called on Moore to withdraw from the race following the allegations and asked for the money he donated to Moore’s campaign to be returned.
Despite the allegations against Moore, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE offered the candidate a full endorsement ahead of the vote Tuesday and recorded a robocall on his behalf.
Republicans were divided over how to handle Moore ahead of the special election in deep-red Alabama, as Republicans were already defending a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee cut ties with Moore following the allegations of sexual misconduct, while the Republican National Committee — despite previously withdrawing support — began directing money to his campaign again after Trump’s endorsement.
Exit polls on Tuesday showed Trump’s approval rating in Alabama was at 48 percent, the same as his disapproval rating, which Stivers said indicated the president’s endorsement was not enough to lift Moore to victory.
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“This was mostly a Roy Moore problem, and the question was could the president save him. And the president’s numbers, at 48-48, he couldn’t save him but I don’t think the president cost him the election,” Stivers said.