First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Despite all of the recent allegations against Republican Roy Moore, one reason why political observers still believe he can pull out a win three weeks from now is that the race takes place in Alabama, a state Donald Trump won by 28 points in 2016, 62 percent to 34 percent. But as our colleague Dante Chinni reminds us, Alabama voters have never considered the controversial Moore to be your average Republican politician.
In 2012, Chinni writes, Moore (running for state Supreme Court chief justice) underperformed Mitt Romney by 9 points in Alabama. Romney carried 61 percent of the vote in the state, while Moore – who had already been ousted once for defying a federal order to remove his monument of the Ten Commandments inside the state’s judicial building – got 52 percent.
“Furthermore, when all the results were in, Romney won nine more Alabama counties in the presidential race, 52 of them, than Moore did in his contest, 43,” Chinni adds. “Even in Moore’s home county of Etowah, Romney outperformed Moore and by a wide margin, 13 points – 68 percent for Romney to 55 percent for Moore.”
“Overall, the presidential and the state chief justice races produced about the same number of votes, a little more than 2 million in each. But Romney won 204,000 more votes out of Alabama than Moore did in 2012.”
Bottom line: Roy Moore always had vulnerabilities going into his general-election matchup with Democrat Doug Jones. Now it’s possible that Moore can still win in this overwhelmingly GOP-leaning state, even though a Fox News poll showed him trailing Jones by 8 points. No one, after all, knows who exactly will turn out in a December 12 election.
But consider what Trump said about Moore when he was campaigning for Luther Strange back in September: "I have to say this — Luther will definitely win. Roy has a very good chance of not winning — in the general election.”
Moore’s first accuser speaks on “Today”
“I was a 14 year old trying to play in an adult’s world, and he was 32 years old”: As for the recent allegations against Moore, his first accuser – Leigh Corfman – appeared on “Today” this morning. Corfman told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie: “He [Moore] took me to his home... He proceeded to seduce me... He removed my clothing... He touched me over my clothing, what was left of that... I was a 14 year old trying to play in an adult's world, and he was 32 years old.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Alabama’s three largest papers – the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register and the Huntsville Times – ran this editorial on their front pages: “Stand For Decency, Reject Roy Moore.”
Alabama voters weigh in on Moore
NBC’s Mike Memoli spoke to Alabama voters about Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. “I’m just not going to vote for Roy Moore in this situation,” Frank Cook, a lifelong Republican who voted for Moore over Strange in the September GOP runoff, told Memoli after attending church services in Montgomery. “My wife is a Democrat. She has convinced me that in this situation that I need to be voting Democratic. And I agree with her."
“But 10 days after the Washington Post first detailed women’s accusations of unwanted sexual advances by Moore, followed by more accusations and furious push-back from the judge and his supporters, many worshipers on Sunday were reluctant to weigh in on how the developments had altered, or not, their view on the Senate race,” Memoli writes.
“‘We’re hearing way too much,’ Walter Corbitt said after attending First United’s early morning service with his wife. ‘We really just hope that the best outcome will happen and that God will take care of the state and for the country.’”
“‘The Senate race is going to come and go and God’s still going to be in control,’ Mary Corbitt, his wife, added. ‘You have to vote your conscience and ultimately leave it up to a prayerful consideration.’”
Trump takes aim at Lavar Ball, Marshawn Lynch and Jeff Flake
President Trump fired off these tweets over the weekend and this morning – before his 11:30 am ET cabinet meeting:
OMB Director Mulvaney talks gimmicks and gaming the system
When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, filling in for Chuck Todd, asked OMB Director Mick Mulvaney on “Meet the Press” why corporate tax cuts are permanent under the Senate bill but individual ones are temporary, he responded:
MULVANEY: Keep in mind, one of the reasons, Andrea, that a lot of this different pieces and parts expire during the course of the 10 years is simply to force this bill into these strange rules in the Senate. We're using what's called the Byrd Rule in the Senate.
MULVANEY: We're using reconciliation so that we only need 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60. In order to do that the certain proposals can only have certain economic impact. And one of the ways to game the system is to make things expire. The Bush tax cuts back in early 2000 did the same thing...
MITCHELL: Isn't that an admission though that it's a gimmick. You're saying it's a $1.5 trillion tax cut. The impact on the deficit. But in fact, it's, according to most analyses, $2.2 trillion.
MULVANEY: Well, come back to your first point about the $1.5 trillion. That's the CBO score, the non-partisan CBO, Congressional Budget Office score. But everybody knows it's 100 percent static. It doesn't, it doesn’t consider the possible impacts on the economy of lowering taxes... But, yeah, to the extent it's a gimmick, a lot of this is a gimmick. Obamacare was a gimmick to get through these rules in the Senate. And what you should really be looking at is the policies themselves. And we think these are excellent policies.