Trump ally Bannon campaigns for Moore in Alabama

Dec 5 (Reuters) - A day after President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon campaigned in the state, telling a crowd that allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore were part of a smear campaign to keep him from office.

"They want to destroy Judge Roy Moore and you know why?" Bannon asked at the rally in Fairhope, Alabama. "They want to take your voice away."

14 PHOTOS
Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
See Gallery
Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
Beverly Nelson (L) shows a school year book with attorney Gloria Allread during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Wendy Miller
Gloria Deason
Accuser Beverly Young Nelson, reacts while reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Attorney Gloria Allred stands with accuser Beverly Young Nelson, holding a sketch of herself made when she was 16 after reading a statement claiming that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually harassed her when she was 16, in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Beverly Nelson (L) reacts as she reads a statement to reporters with attorney Gloria Allred during a news conference announcing new allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore, in New York, November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Beverly Young Nelson (L) speaks to the media with her lawyer Gloria Allred, at a news conference where she has accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually abusing her when she was 16 on November 13, 2017 in New York City. Moore, a controversial politician who recently won a run-off against Luther Strange for Alabama's Senate seat, is currently fighting accusations alleging that he pursued sexual relationships with teenagers -- including a 14-year-old -- when he was in his 30s. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump originally supported Moore's opponent in the Republican primary, Luther Strange, who was favored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the Republican establishment. Moore defeated Strange in the primary and now faces Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special election to replace Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. Attorney General in the Trump administration.

Bannon, who left the White House in August after a power struggle and rejoined the Breitbart News Network right-wing website, was a major proponent of Trump's "America First" agenda during the 2016 election campaign.

Trump, Bannon said, "understands where Roy Moore stands." He called the Alabama Senate race "a referendum on the Trump program."

Moore, 70, has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Moore denies the allegations. Reuters has not independently verified the reports.

The allegations initially had Trump keeping his distance from Moore, but he has grown more vocal in his support this week, as public opinion polls show Moore holding a slight lead over Jones.

Bannon remained steadfast in support of Moore. Bannon has pledged to back candidates in Senate primaries next year who oppose retaining McConnell as the Senate's leader, contending that he has stalled Trump's policy agenda.

18 PHOTOS
Steve Bannon
See Gallery
Steve Bannon
White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

When the accusations against Moore were first reported, McConnell called on Moore to drop out of the race. More recently, however, McConnell has tempered his view, saying Alabama voters should determine whether Moore should be elected.

In his remarks, Moore repeatedly mocked McConnell.

"The folks in Alabama were always going to decide, Mitch," he said. "They have no interest in what you have to say."

And while Republicans appear divided over Moore's candidacy, Trump's endorsement prompted the Republican National Committee to reverse course and expend resources to back Moore.

The RNC briefly cut ties with Moore last month when the accounts of women who said he had sexually abused them were reported in the Washington Post.

20 PHOTOS
Women share photos of themselves at age 14 in response to Roy Moore allegations
See Gallery
Women share photos of themselves at age 14 in response to Roy Moore allegations
I was eating a lot of chocolate chip cookie dough and learning to do the “hustle” and not worrying about a 32 year… https://t.co/A4MDPdG9w7
This was me at 14. l had plants in my room with names for them and l drew pictures of my beagle Cookie. l was in Th… https://t.co/Nf8i3ozSV5
#MeAt14 I worshipped my brother. I loved my dog, Pucci. I loved OMD. I had Big hair. I was happy. I was innocent.… https://t.co/UxkncAWzz5
@lizzwinstead lizz i was actually 15 in this pic .. but pregnant at 14. it took me decades to realize the most of t… https://t.co/gwBuIuM1zc
There is something seriously wrong with anyone who thinks 14 is old enough to consent. #MeAt14 https://t.co/rfPnuwLWL1
When you're in your 30's, luring a vulnerable 14-year-old to your house is not "dating." #sexualpredator This is… https://t.co/4AmD01ktb7
#MeAt14 shouldn't have been allowed to pick out my own clothes, definitely not old enough to consent to being grope… https://t.co/RqQD9pbNvC
Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere. #MeAt14 https://t.co/AFUw1Ru4X2
This is me at 14. I wasn’t dating a 32 year old male. I was riding horses, playing basketball, and trying to surviv… https://t.co/kH5Za1TB2m
This is me at 14. I was on the gymnastics team and sang in the choir. I was not dating a 32 year old man. Who were… https://t.co/q27izzub36
This is #MeAt14 Wish I could say I had never been kissed.But when I was 11 @ friends slumber party, n outdoor hide&… https://t.co/I2rjy1mBgj
This girl was a dreamer w/ambitions of becoming a marine biologist & someday meeting David Bowie. This girl became… https://t.co/0ub1xO1A3S
This is me at 14, a shy and innocent bookworm. No way is a 14-yr-old developmentally prepared to date a 32-yr-old m… https://t.co/zdb79nPnDt
#MeAt14 Here's a diary entry about the time I started crying at a dance because I was scared of dancing with boys.… https://t.co/McRbxyBRKM
Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere. #MeAt14 https://t.co/4V51WZJljC
@lizzwinstead I played clarinet, obsessively read "Interview with the Vampire", and memorized hockey stats for fun.… https://t.co/xC2ELLqRjM
This is #MeAt14. I had a B in Algebra and I hated getting my braces tightened. I wasn’t dating 32-year-old men. https://t.co/4Yb6AKML4M
This is me at 14. I was in a production of Guys and Dolls. Here we're singing "Bushel and a Peck." I was not dating… https://t.co/VUARYBVgqO
This is me at 14. I wasn’t dating a 32 year old male. I was riding horses, playing basketball, and trying to surviv… https://t.co/kH5Za1TB2m
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

(Reporting by James Oliphant, additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Grant McCool)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.