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Contraception Mandate Rollback Could Be a ‘Message Received’ Signal From Trump After Luther Strange Loss

Sunday mornings, many D.C. politicos wake to hear political gospel from Sunday shows like Meet the Press and Face the Nation. If Roy Moore wins in December, there will be no question he will hear his Sunday gospel in the pews of a church.

Moore has had one consistent theme throughout his senate campaign over the last few months. That has been the importance of God and faith in our politics and government.

“We’ve got to go back to God,” Moore said at a rally on the eve of his historic election victory last month. “We’ve got to go back to a moral base.”

Moore was not the candidate President Donald Trump initially supported. Reportedly at the behest of his inner circle, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump backed Moore’s opponent Luther Strange in the recent runoff for the Republican nomination.

Even with Trump’s endorsement and the backing of the Republican establishment in Washington, Strange still lost by nine points.

Trump’s loss in the state was a relatively new phenomenon. Indeed, Alabama has been kind to Trump, the politician. During his bid for the GOP nomination, Trump drew big crowds in Mobile and Huntsville. He won the state’s GOP presidential primary by 22 points, more than double the vote tally of his closest competitor Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). He won the state as a whole in last year’s election against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 27 points.

Undoubtedly, Alabama is Trump country, but Alabamians did not vote for Trump’s guy. Were GOP voters in Alabama trying to send Trump a message by rebuking the candidate he endorsed?

A few days before the runoff election, Huntsville, AL radio host Dale Jackson lobbied his listeners to send Trump a message by voting against Strange.

“If you’re looking to send a message, the message is sent through giving Donald Trump a big loss,” stated Jackson. “That’s the best message you can send.”

Less than a month after that “big loss,” the Trump administration rolled back an Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients in their employer-provided health insurance plans.

The Republican effort to eliminate Obamacare has famously stalled, but there were murmurs a month ago that the Trump administration was poised to make a move against the contraception mandate.

Rumor or not the Trump administration ended up granting an exemption to the contraception mandate to employers with conflicting religious beliefs this month. The timing has prompted speculations that the move was tied less as much to Trump’s campaign promises as it was to Moore’s election victory. In other words, Trump received the message Dale Jackson and voters like him were sending.

One of the groups supporting Moore in his bid against Strange was the Family Research Council (FRC) Action PAC, the FRC’s legislative affiliate.

“These are challenging times and our nation is looking for bold leadership,” FRC Action president Tony Perkins said announcing the group’s support for Moore. “Over the years Judge Moore has proven he is willing to stand up for our Constitution and fight for the rights of the people. From working with him and evaluating his record as a public servant, FRC Action PAC believes he will provide needed leadership on important issues in the U.S. Senate.”

Perkins and his group were also at the forefront of the opposition to the Obamacare contraception mandate. The group applauded Trump’s announcement last week.

“After eight years of the federal government’s relentless assault on the First Amendment, the Trump administration has taken concrete steps today that will once again erect a bulwark of protection around American’s First Freedom – religious freedom,” Perkins said in a statement.  “President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom.    Last May, the president ordered the federal government to vigorously promote and protect religious liberty –and now the DOJ and HHS are moving to make that order a reality.”

Polling showed Moore firmly had the support of evangelical Christian GOP voters so far throughout this election process, and they came out for Moore in both the primary and in the runoff despite Trump’s endorsement.

Throughout the election process, the polls were proven right as Moore won both the primary and the runoff and is set to face Democratic nominee Doug Jones in December.

If the results thus far were indeed the message Trump needed, then perhaps last week’s announcement from Trump was a signal that message was received.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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