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Trump has to show his cards on whether he backs Roy Moore

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(ABC News) — It’s time for President Donald Trump to choose.

In the intraparty war over Roy Moore, does Trump try to push him out of the race – aligning himself (again) with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?

Or does he stay just enough removed from the Alabama Senate race to be one of the last Republicans standing, giving Steve Bannon’s candidate a sliver of a chance to bounce back?

The answer could have lasting implications for governance and the midterm elections and maybe the future of the Republican Party.Related Content: Roy Moore losing GOP endorsements after new accusations

The insider vs. outsider war has already been playing out – even in Alabama, of course, where Trump and McConnell couldn’t stop Moore in the primary race. The stakes are even higher now in a defining political episode that’s coinciding with the major cultural moment around powerful men and sexual misbehavior.

As Trump returns to work in Washington today, the official White House line remains that Moore should step aside “if these allegations are true.”

Most leadership Republicans have now abandoned qualifiers in favor of outright calling for his exit.Related Content: New woman accuses Roy Moore of sexual assault

Notably, Moore’s latest fundraising appeal evokes Trump sliming his critics in the media: “It’s the same playbook they used in their failed attempt to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.” Moore goes on to attack McConnell and other Republicans he calls “vicious thugs.”

It’s not at all clear that Trump’s urging would force Moore from the race. Moore won the primary in part with voters who felt like Trump was duped into supporting Sen. Luther Strange.

But as battle lines are drawn for 2018, the president’s language matters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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