Donald Trump was about to board a flight for Florida to spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago when reporters finally were able to get him to address the GOP elephant in the room: the embattled Roy Moore and the Alabama Senate election.

Roy Moore
NBC News

After maintaining a long radio silence on the topic, the president made clear who he is backing for the open seat. “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” said Trump, who is dying to get tax reform passed before Christmas. “[Moore’s opponent Doug] Jones — I’ve looked at his record. … I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that’s gonna be bad on crime, bad on the borders, bad on the military, bad on the Second Amendment.”

Trump had been mum on the Moore accusations, ignoring reporters’ shouted questions for the past several days as the scandal involving underage girls continued to boil over. Today’s paradigm shift in the president’s thinking comes a day after his aide Kellyanne Conway used very similar language during a Fox & Friends segment.

Then came the burning question: “Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?” a reporter asked. “Well, he denies it; he denies it,” Trump replied, then pivoted/deflected: “I mean, if you look at what’s really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. He said 40 years ago this did not happen.”

Republican Party

Reminder that the White House said 11 days ago that POTUS “believes if allegations are true he will do the right thing and step aside.” Reminder 2: Trump had endorsed Moore’s opponent Luther Strange in the GOP primary for the Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore, who has been accused by several women of inappropriate sexual behavior when they were teenagers, was backed by Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Another strong question from a reporter today: “Mr. President, what is your message to women? This is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”

His response: “Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society. And I think it’s very, very good for women. And I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out.”