US President Donald Trump has fully endorsed an Alabama Senate candidate who is embroiled in allegations of child sex abuse.
“We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” he said in a tweet. The White House confirmed Mr Trump’s endorsement.
His support is at odds with much of the Republican establishment who have distanced themselves from the 70-year-old Christian conservative.
Mr Moore denies the allegations against him, describing them as a “witch hunt”.
In a tweet, Mr Trump pointed to the slim 52-48 Republican majority in the Senate as a reason for his support.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” he said.
He then suggested a victory for Democratic candidate Doug Jones in Alabama would harm his party’s agenda.
Mr Trump initially backed incumbent Luther Strange, 64, in the race but he lost the primary to Mr Moore, sending shockwaves through Washington.
Mr Moore’s wife, Kayla, confirmed the president had offered his support in a Facebook post.
“Judge Moore just got off the phone with President Trump-we have his full support! Thank you Mr. President!”, she said.
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The former Alabama supreme court judge has been accused by seven women of pursuing sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was a 30-something prosecutor.
One alleges he molested her when she was 14 years old. Another says he tried to rape her.
Following the allegations a number of Senate Republicans, including majority leader Mitch McConnell, called on Mr Moore to quit the race but he has refused to stand aside.
Several Alabama newspapers have endorsed Mr Moore’s Democratic opponent, a remarkable step in such a staunchly Republican state.