Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore met with the Senate GOP caucus on Tuesday, putting him face to face with the Republican establishment that he has railed against for months.
Moore, a former state judge, stopped by the party’s closed-door lunch, which is also attended by Vice President Pence, as part of a whirlwind tour of Capitol Hill.
The powwow marked the biggest indicator to date of establishment Republicans moving to accept Moore ahead of a special election in December to fill the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions joined the Trump administration as attorney general.
Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) during a heated primary fight in September. The battle pitted former White House strategist Stephen Bannon against most GOP senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as well as President Trump, who supported Strange.
Republicans said after the closed-door meeting Tuesday that Moore didn’t speak much during the lunch, beyond introducing himself.
“He said a few words, spoke to me. … He was very professional,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a vocal Trump critic, said the conservative firebrand said “hello” to him. McConnell and Moore, whom the GOP leader has previously refused to support, also spoke during the lunch.
Asked about his meeting with the caucus, a spokesman for the Senate GOP leader noted that “candidates traditionally attend a policy lunch after they become the nominee” but declined to describe any interactions.
A spokesman for Moore’s campaign declined to say who else Moore met with on Tuesday, except to note that he was meeting with other senators.
Despite actively opposing Moore during the GOP primary race, outside groups and Republicans are increasingly rallying around Moore ahead of the December special election.
As the Republican, Moore has long been expected to win in the deep-red state. But more recent polls have proved surprisingly close, with the RealClearPolitics polling index currently putting Moore up only 6 points over Democrat Doug Jones.
Moore’s visit to Capitol Hill wasn’t without controversy, with some of his potential colleagues unwilling…