- George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
President Donald Trump wrapped up his Thanksgiving trip to Mar-a-Lago on Sunday by spending a fifth consecutive day at his golf clubs and tweeting his support for Republican lightning rod Roy Moore in a high-stakes Alabama Senate race to be decided next month.
Trump boarded Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport at about 4:20 p.m. to return to Washington after a five-day stay in Palm Beach. On the motorcade from Mar-a-Lago to the airport, Trump supporters dominated the crowds along Southern Boulevard between the Intracoastal Waterway and Parker Avenue. Near Interstate 95, however, dozens of opponents gathered with anti-Trump signs.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach
It was Trump’s eighth visit to his Palm Beach estate as president but his first since April. Trump has logged about 22 days, or roughly 7 percent of his presidency, in Palm Beach County. With the town’s winter season just started, he is expected to spend more time here through Easter.
The Republican National Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and other high-profile Republicans have withdrawn their support for Moore since The Washington Post reported Nov. 9 that a woman said Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in 1979. Three other women said in the same article that Moore had pursued them around that same time when they were between 16 and 18 years old. Moore has denied any impropriety.
Trump on Sunday morning didn’t mention Moore by name but told Twitter followers that Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, would be a “disaster” in the U.S. Senate and a liberal “puppet” of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Moore controversy gives Democrats a realistic chance of claiming a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama for the first time since Sen. Howell Heflin retired in 1997. With the GOP now holding 52 of 100 U.S. Senate seats, a Democratic victory would make GOP control of the chamber even more precarious.
Trump — himself the target of sexual misconduct allegations that he denied during the 2016 presidential campaign — was in Asia when the Moore story broke and initially refrained from commenting.
The president addressed the Moore matter for the first time on Tuesday outside the White House just before embarking on his Palm Beach trip, slamming Democrat Jones and telling reporters: “Roy Moore denies it. And, by the way, he gives a total denial. And I do have to say, 40 years is a long time.”
Trump doubled down on Twitter on Sunday from Mar-a-Lago.
“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!” Trump tweeted at 8:52 a.m.
At 9:33 a.m., just after his motorcade completed the 4½-mile trip to Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach, the president tweeted again on the Alabama Senate race without mentioning Moore.
“I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough. Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be BAD!” Trump tweeted.
Strange is the Republican senator appointed to replace Jeff Sessions after Trump tapped Sessions for attorney general. Moore defeated Strange in a September GOP primary.
Trump spent about 4½ hours at his golf club on Sunday. He returned to Mar-a-Lago just after 2 p.m., passing a small group of supporters on the west side of the Southern Boulevard bridge between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach.
Trump changed from a white golf shirt and red hat into a dark suit and tie and departed Mar-a-Lago shortly after 4 p.m.
Along the eastern stretch of the motorcade, cheering Trump supporters waved signs that included “Blacks for Trump 2020,” “Welcome Home President Trump” and “Hillary for Prison.”
“There are a lot of people who are anti-Trump, but I wanted him to see has some support as he drives by,” said Mary Smith, of Hypoluxo, who held a sign that mentioned the “silent majority.”
Travis Bearman, visiting from Orlando, stood farther west among presidential protesters but came up with his own pro-Trump message on the spot.
With black marker, he drew the word “Trump” on his stomach with a heart around his navel.
“I’m just here to give him a thumbs up as he goes by,” Bearman said.
Near Bearman, Trump critics held signs that included “President Trump is Fake News,” “Go Away and Don’t Come Back” and “Resign.”
“Hate not welcome in WPB” read a sign held by Alex Newell Taylor, of West Palm Beach, who organized an anti-Trump march on Nov. 11.
Standing near I-95, Brenda Macedo, of West Palm Beach, said her major beefs were Trump’s tax plan, attempts to roll back environmental regulations and attacks on journalists.
“In Florida, we need clean air and water protection,” she said.
Staff writers Charles Elmore and Elliott Wenzler contributed to this story.