Win or Lose, Alabama Race Will Hang Over Republicans

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Win or lose, President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans will be dealing with the consequences of today’s Senate election in Alabama for the foreseeable future.

Republicans initially expected to easily win the special election in one of America’s most conservative states, keeping their slim 52-seat Senate majority intact. Instead, anti-establishment candidate Roy Moore won the nomination, exposing deep rifts in the GOP and the country itself.

Allegations last month that the former judge, now 70, had pursued teenage girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s transformed the race into a proxy battle in the uproar over sexual misconduct. His Democratic opponent, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, has risen to within striking distance in the polls.

With next year’s midterm elections looming, Democrats have sought to seize the moral high ground, forcing their accused lawmakers to resign and calling renewed attention to sexual harassment allegations against Trump himself. Moore’s defeat would sound alarm bells in for Republicans’ and further complicate Trump’s legislative agenda.

If Moore wins, Republican senators will have decide how to deal with the claims against their future colleague. How they do could set the tone for next year’s races.

Win or Lose, Alabama Race Will Hang Over Republicans

Global Headlines

NYC bombing suspect | Trump said the attack in Manhattan yesterday, which left four people injured, shows the urgency of tightening immigration laws. The White House argues its policies would have kept the bombing suspect out of the country. Look for the president and his allies to cite the incident as they press to increase immigration enforcement funding during upcoming debates over federal spending.

Brexit conundrum | International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told Bloomberg the U.K. would like a post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union “virtually identical” to the one it has now. Problem is that his position is routinely knocked down by EU officials, who have described it as “having your cake and eating it too.” It remains to be seen how the U.K. will reconcile its aspirations for trade with what the EU seems willing to give.

Secret tax talks | With fewer than 10 working days remaining before Republican lawmakers’ self-imposed deadline to send Trump a tax bill, negotiators trying to resolve differences between House- and Senate-passed proposals are keeping details under wraps. A formal meeting is set for tomorrow. Sticking points include the corporate rate and changes to the estate tax.

Modi’s gender card | With a growing female electorate positioned to decide whether he gets a second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is rolling out a raft of proposals designed for Indian women. Besides giving cooking gas to rural families, he’s also pushing to outlaw so-called instant divorce in Muslim communities, Vrishti Beniwal and Bibhudatta Pradhan report. One big reason: Polls show women tend to be more critical of Modi’s performance.

Olympic goodwill? | The U.S. and South Korea may delay joint military drills until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, a move that could help create the conditions for talks with North Korea, Kanga Kang reports. For the major players in the region, maintaining stability is paramount, which is why, as David Tweed explains, China’s so reluctant to cut off its greatest remaining leverage over Kim Jong Un: oil supplies.

And finally... Trump’s decision to order manned missions to the moon and Mars inspired more than a few social media jokes about the solar system’s untapped hotel markets. But the new NASA directive was more notable for what it omitted from President Barack Obama’s previous policy statement in 2010. Gone was the specific deadline to “send humans to orbit Mars” by the mid-203Os. Gone was the plan to send “crewed missions beyond the moon, including sending humans to an asteroid” by 2025. 

Win or Lose, Alabama Race Will Hang Over Republicans

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net.

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