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President Donald Trump on Monday officially endorsed embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls decades ago.
Trump called Moore and the men "discussed the state of the Alabama Senate race and the president endorsed Judge Moore's campaign," Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah said.
A short time later, Moore's campaign put out a statement thanking Trump for the endorsement.
The president had previously supported Moore but not used the word "endorsement" in his tweets or public comments.
"I am honored to receive the support and endorsement of President Donald Trump," Moore said. "President Trump knows that the future of his conservative agenda in Congress hinges on this election."
Trump's endorsement came eight days before the special Senate election in the state, where polls have shown Moore and the Democrat Doug Jones in a dead heat.
Earlier Monday, Trump took to Twitter to offer his strongest support yetto Moore, whose campaign has been rocked in recent weeks by repeated allegations that he, years ago, engaged in sexual misconduct with women, some as young as 14.
"Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet," Trump tweeted in the first of two posts.
"Putting Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Puppet Jones into office in Alabama would hurt our great Republican Agenda of low on taxes, tough on crime, strong on military and borders...& so much more," Trump added, referring to Moore’s opponent in the race, Democrat Doug Jones. "Look at your 401-k's since Election. Highest Stock Market EVER! Jobs are roaring back!"
Moore responded moments after Trump's tweets, tweeting that he was, "Thankful for President Trump's support."
“The America First agenda will #MAGA. Can't wait to help him #DrainTheSwamp. #ALSEN,” Moore posted.
Moore's wife, Kayla, said on Facebook hours later that Trump and Moore had spoken on the phone.
"Judge Moore just got off the phone with President Trump-we have his full support! Thank you Mr. President! Let’s MAGA!" she wrote.
Last month, Trump said Alabama voters must elect Moore to prevent the "liberal" Jones from winning.
"I can tell you one thing for sure: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones," Trump said on Nov. 21.
Trump, repeatedly pressed on the accusations against Moore, said then that he took the GOP candidate at his word — that he did nothing wrong.
"He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also," Trump said in response to shouted questions from reporters about the nine women who have made claims against Moore.
The White House, however, said last week that Trump would not campaign for Moore.