By Matthew Pertz, Video Editor
After fighting allegations of child molestation, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has new momentum thanks to the support of President Trump.
Speaking via Twitter on Nov. 28, Trump implicitly endorsed Moore by tearing into his opponent Doug Jones, writing, “The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!”
The accusations stem from a Nov. 9 Washington Post article claiming Moore, while in his mid-thirties, initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old and habitually dated minors. Alabama’s age of consent is 16, and Moore’s offense, if convicted, could have carried a felony charge with 10 years in jail. The alleged incidents are now outside the statute of limitations.
Before the story, Moore led polls by an average of 8.7 points. Since, he’s led by only an average of a single point, leaving the race ultimately in the air.
Most mainline Republicans immediately rejected Moore, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said, “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate.” Retiring Arizona Republican Jeff Flake took McConnell’s criticism further, saying, “If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat.”
Moore continues to fight the allegations, claiming the Washington Port falsified these allegations in a libelous smear campaign against him, writing “The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal –– even inflict physical harm –– if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me.” His campaign manager later stated the allegations would have come out during Moore’s earlier campaigns if they were true.
Many influential evangelicals are defending Moore and seeking to discredit his accusers. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, told the Religious News Service in an email, “It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser…And I believe the judge is telling the truth.” Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham, speaking with the Charlotte Observer after his charity’s annual send-off for Operation Christmas Child, said “All I know is, he’s been (in) public service all of these years – 40 years – and a month before the election these women (have come forward). And I talked to Roy Moore, I asked him. He said ‘I don’t even know them.’ So, I don’t know.”
Pat Buchanan, who ran for president twice as a Republican and once in the Reform Party, has argued that Christians have a moral imperative to vote for Moore. In a column, he said Christians should stomach claims of statutory rape, because “that Alabama Senate race could determine whether Roe v. Wade is overturned. The lives of millions of unborn may be the stakes.”
Some have accused the Post of seeking dirt and exaggerating claims in an attempt to sink the Republican’s candidacy in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since Richard Shelby – who later changed his affiliation to Republican – in 1992. A robocall claiming to be a Post reporter named Bernie Bernstein offered up to $7,000 for damaging comments on Moore; it was quickly debunked because the Post hires no such reporter and does not pay for information. The paper also disproved a woman claiming to have been assaulted by Moore in the 1970s. Her story was unsubstantiated and she was outed as an employee of Project Veritas, a company that practices deceitful tactics to embarrass mainstream outlets.
Moore’s campaign was dogged by controversy long before the Post report. He served Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court twice and was removed by the state’s judiciary court for refusing to follow federal orders: first for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments and later for ordering clerks to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His beliefs are more conservative than most Republicans currently in the Senate; he wrote in 2007 that government-funded preschool inculcates in 4-year-olds “a liberal social and political philosophy with the state as his or her master.” In a 2002 opinion on a same-sex custody case, then-Chief Justice Moore wrote, “Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”