"Rarely has a sitting president rallied behind such a scandal-plagued candidate the way Donald Trump did with Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore," says Julie Pace at The Associated Press. "And rarely has that bet failed so spectacularly." One senior administration official told Politico that Tuesday's victory for Democrat Doug Jones "is a big black eye for the president," and Politico added that "it was a self-inflicted wound."
Trump's first reaction to Moore's loss, "a demure Twitter post congratulating Doug Jones" that Trump sent "while in the White House residence, alone for much of the evening, with the first lady out of town," wasn't expected to be his last word, Maggie Haberman reports at The New York Times. "White House aides on Tuesday night were bracing for fallout, in person and on Twitter," as Trump absorbed the loss. Advisers conceded that Trump "rarely assumes responsibility for a misstep, and they anticipated him looking for someone to blame," the Times adds, but the question was who. On Wednesday morning, Trump blamed "the deck":
The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
Trump aides and advisers "spun the loss as belonging squarely to Mr. Moore," arguing that "Trump could not drag someone that weak over the finish line against a crush of outside spending," Haberman reports, but White House aides really hoped Stephen Bannon would get the blame. Trump was "enraged when his daughter Ivanka Trump got ahead of him by declaring there was a 'special place in hell' for people who harm children," meaning Moore, she adds, but "one White House adviser said that Mr. Trump was unlikely to blame his daughter." You can read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber