Roy Moore: Alabama voters will ‘see through this charade’ of sexual misconduct claim
VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Senate candidate Roy Moore tried to rally support behind his embattled campaign Saturday as some prominent Republicans disowned him over allegations that he pursued sexual or romantic relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
In his first public appearance since The Washington Post reported the allegations, Moore called the claims “a desperate attempt to stop my campaign” and cast doubt on the intentions of his accusers, one of whom said she was 14 when the former Alabama judge initiated a sexual encounter.
“These allegations came only four-and-a-half weeks before the election,” Moore told about 100 supporters at a Veterans Day breakfast here.
“That’s not a coincidence. It’s an intentional act to stop a campaign. . . . We do not intend to let the Democrats or the establishment Republicans or anybody else behind this story stop this campaign,” he said.
Moore’s effort to frame the allegations as a political conspiracy perpetrated by the media and his political enemies came as national Republicans withdrew financial support for his campaign and called for him to bow out before the Dec. 12 special election.
Republican voters at the event in Alabama were defiant in their support for Moore.
“From what I’ve read, it seems like this 14-year-old girl who is now 50-something has a somewhat checkered past,” Johnny Creel, 56, an insurance broker wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, said outside the event.
“You have to judge a story like that on the credibility of the accuser. . . . I don’t think it happened.”
Willie A. Casey, one of the few African Americans at the event, said the story is the “hottest thing going in Birmingham,” especially in the black community. But he said the allegations have not changed his position.
“I believe in [Moore’s] biblical principles,” said Casey, 70, comparing the United States to “Sodom and Gomorrah.” “I think in America, we’ve gone so far out of the Bible, someone needs to bring it back.”
Leigh Corfman, who described a sexual encounter with Moore when she was 14, told The Post she thought about confronting Moore for years but feared her personal history — three divorces and a messy financial background — could hurt her credibility. She also worried how it would affect her children, she said.
Moore, who won his Senate nomination while touting his belief in the supremacy of a Christian God over the Constitution, said he expects “the citizens of Alabama to see through this charade.”
The 70-year-old is running against Democrat Doug Jones to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but the claims have raised questions about his viability in the race and how the Republican Party should respond.
President Trump, who has been on a 12-day tour of Asia, told reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One that he hasn’t “been able to devote very much time” to follow the report about Moore.
“Honestly, I’d have to look at it and I’d have to see. Because, again, I’m dealing with the president of China, the president of Russia, I’m dealing with the folks over here,” he said when asked to comment on the accusations.
On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed the positions of Vice President Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that “if the allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
Conservative Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Steve Daines (Mont.) have rescinded their endorsements of Moore. They were joined Saturday by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who wrote on Twitter, “Based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support.”
And on Saturday, two more Republicans, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), disparaged him.
Some Republicans have hoped that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) would postpone the election, but her staff told local media outlets Saturday that the election will go on as scheduled next month.