Trump urges Alabama voters to back Roy Moore

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday voiced support for Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct, during a rally that foreshadowed themes for next year’s midterm elections.

Trump, speaking to a stadium of supporters in Pensacola, Florida, near the Alabama state line, touted his work to quit or renegotiate trade deals and called on Democrats to support a measure that would avert a government shutdown.

Trump highlighted familiar themes from his political rallies: criticism of violence in Chicago, which he suggested was less safe than Afghanistan, as well as his commitment to improving U.S. border security and to crack down on immigration.

But he made a point of using the rally to note his desire to get Moore elected.

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he departs a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A supporter dressed as Uncle Sam walks around before U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives for a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about protesters carrying signs at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. President Donald Trump uses his famous "You're fired" line at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A supporter holds up a sign as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally in Pensacola, Florida U.S. December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Attendees listen as the U.S. National Anthem is played during a campaign rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Trump�gave his most full-throated endorsement yet of Alabama Senate candidate�Roy Moore, casting aside calls for to shun the former judge whos been accused of sexual misconduct while seizing on reports that questioned the credibility of his accuser.�Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump applauds as he speaks during a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Trump�gave his most full-throated endorsement yet of Alabama Senate candidate�Roy Moore, casting aside calls for to shun the former judge whos been accused of sexual misconduct while seizing on reports that questioned the credibility of his accuser.�Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Trump�gave his most full-throated endorsement yet of Alabama Senate candidate�Roy Moore, casting aside calls for to shun the former judge whos been accused of sexual misconduct while seizing on reports that questioned the credibility of his accuser.�Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee holds a sign reading 'CNN. MSNBC. Fake News.' during a campaign rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Trump�gave his most full-throated endorsement yet of Alabama Senate candidate�Roy Moore, casting aside calls for to shun the former judge whos been accused of sexual misconduct while seizing on reports that questioned the credibility of his accuser.�Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A supporter cheers as US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Pensacola Bay Center on December 8, 2017 in Pensacola, Florida. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Get out and vote for Roy Moore,” Trump said ahead of Tuesday's election.

The race in the heavily Republican state heated up last month with accusations that Moore sexually assaulted or behaved inappropriately with several women when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Moore, a conservative Christian and former state judge, denies the allegations, and Trump formally endorsed him on Monday.

"We cannot afford - this country, the future of this country - cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate," Trump said. Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Trump said Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, is a "total puppet" of Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

"He will never, ever vote for us. We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda," Trump said.

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Moore’s race against Jones, a former attorney, has come amid an array of allegations of sexual misconduct that have brought down men in media, politics, and entertainment.

U.S. Senator Al Franken said on Thursday he would resign in the coming weeks after allegations of sexual misconduct. Franken said it was ironic that he was leaving while Moore campaigned with backing of his party and Trump, who last year faced allegations of sexual misconduct, remained in the Oval Office.

Trump's support for Moore puts him at odds with other lawmakers in the Republican Party, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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Women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual assault
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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
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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)
MEGYN KELLY TODAY -- Pictured: Tina Johnson and Megyn Kelly on Friday, November 17, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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In his speech, Trump did not directly address the sexual harassment allegations against Moore, but he mocked the fact that one of Moore's accusers acknowledged on Friday that part of an inscription that she had said Moore had written in her high school yearbook was in fact penned by her.

"Did you see what happened today? You know, the yearbook? ... There was a little mistake made - she started writing things in the yearbook," Trump said.

The accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, said last month Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and he was a prosecuting attorney in his 30s.

Moore denies ever having known Nelson. Nelson says the yearbook entry shows that they were acquainted.

Nelson's attorney Gloria Allred said on Friday a handwriting analysis had concluded that Moore had signed the yearbook.

The White House reiterated on Friday that Moore had denied the accusations against him.

“We find these allegations to be troubling and concerning, and they should be taken seriously. Roy Moore has also maintained that these allegations aren’t true, and that should also be taken into account,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters on Air Force One during Trump's flight to Florida.

After initially abandoning Moore, the Republican Party resumed contributing funding to his election effort after Trump’s endorsement.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Mary Milliken)

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