Moore seeks to refocus campaign on conservative religious values amid firestorm
November 12 at 11:11 PM Republican lawmakers are split on whether Roy Moore, the embattled Alabama Republican, should continue his run for Senate given allegations against him. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama sought to refocus his campaign on the conservative religious ideals most likely to motivate his base voters, dismissing the national firestorm over allegations that he pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Addressing a gathering at the Huntsville Christian Academy in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday night, the former judge suggested that he was investigating his accusers, threatened to sue The Washington Post and called on the United States to restore its culture by going âback to God.â
âWe can be proud of where we came from and where weâre going if we go back to God,â Moore said at his second public event since The Post reported the allegations of misconduct last week.
âIf we go back to God, we can be unified again,â he said.
Mooreâs attempt to steer the political conversation in Alabama back to conservative Christian values came as he weathered a fourth day of repercussions from allegations by four women that he sought romantic or sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
One of the accusers, Leigh CorfÂman, said she was 14 when Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her.
âWeâve still got investigations going on,â Moore said, referring to his accusers. âWeâre still finding out a lot we didnât know.â
Echoing a remark made by his wife Saturday, Moore also said The Post âwill be suedâ for its reporting. The event was closed to news reporters, but aides to Moore broadcast his remarks live on Facebook.
[Roy Moore: Alabama voters will âsee through this charadeâ of sexual misconduct claim]
Mooreâs campaign received backup Sunday from Breitbart News, which sent employees to Alabama to investigate Corfman and the three other women.
In an article published Sunday titled âMother of Roy Moore Accuser: Washington Post Reporters Convinced My Daughter to Go Public,â Breitbart quoted Corfmanâs mother as saying that Post reporters sought out her daughter, not vice versa.
âShe did not go to them,â Nancy Wells said, according to Breitbart. âThey called her.â
Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Mooreâs Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women.
Breitbartâs chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, supports Mooreâs candidacy and has said the accusers are trying to âdestroy a manâs life.â Bannon is a former adviser to President Trump and is still considered close to him.
Mooreâs remarks Sunday night in northern Alabama received a standing ovation. But in Washington, support for his campaign to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued to flag throughout the weekend.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) on Sunday called on Moore to exit the race and said that Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who lost to Moore in the GOP primary, would be a strong candidate for a write-in bid.
âThis is a terrible situation. .â.â. Weâll probably never know for sure exactly what happened,â Toomey said on NBCâs âMeet the Press.â âBut from my point of view .â.â. I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.â
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a frequent Republican critic of President Trump and his wing of the GOP, said the party âought not to b e forâ Mooreâs candidacy and also raised the possibility of a write-in candidacy.
âItâs just really a matter of whether he ought to be the candidate, the standard-bearer of the Republican Party. And I just think he shouldnât be,â Kasich said on ABCâs âThis Week.â
Under Alabama law, Mooreâs name cannot be removed from the ballot this close to the election, but the state GOP can petition to disqualify him. If Moore is disqualified or withdraws, votes for him would not be counted.
The remarks came after multiple Republican senators rescinded their endorsements of Moore and the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled out of a joint fundraising committee with him.
Some Republicans had hoped Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who has called the allegations âdeeply disturbing,â would delay the election. But her staff told local media outlets over the weekend that it will take place as scheduled on Dec. 12.
Moore described the backlash as a political conspiracy among Democrats, establishment Republicans and the national media to keep him out of office.
âWhy do they come now?â Moore said of the accusations, using parts of a statement he recited Saturday in Vestavia Hills, Ala.
âBecause there are groups that donât want me in the United States Senate. Theyâre desperate,â he said.
It remains unclear whether the allegations will damage Mooreâs campaign, although some signs over the weekend suggested it might.
Representatives of the Trump administration appeared split on how to handle the situation.
Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said that Moore needs time to defend himself against the allegations and that Trump will look more closely at the issue after he returns from a trip to Asia.
âRoy Moore is somebody who graduated from West Point, he served our country in Vietnam, heâs been elected multiple times statewide in Alabama,â Sh ort said on âMeet the Press.â âThe people in Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in D.C., and I think we have to be very cautious .â.â. of allegations that are 40 years old that arise a month before Election Day.â
In an interview on âThis Week,â White House adviser Kellyanne Conway repeatedly declined to say whether she believes the allegations.
âI donât know the accusers, and I donât know Judge Moore. But I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press. He has denied the allegations,â she said.
Appearing on CNNâs âState of the Union,â Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the allegations against Moore require a closer look.
âIâm not an expert on this issue, but what I would say is people should investigate this issue and get the facts,â he said. âAnd if these allegations are true, then absolutely, this is incredibly inappropriate behavior.â
Senate D emocrats continued to wrestle with how to leverage the allegations â" and what they might do if Moore becomes their colleague after the Dec. 12 special election.
On âMeet the Press,â Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) floated the idea of expelling Moore from the Senate if he wins.
âWe may not have much choice on that but we have choice on something else,â said Klobuchar, who recently co-sponsored a bill requiring sexual harassment training for senators and their staff members. âThat is that you can expel a senator once they are in with two-thirds of the vote after the ethics committee does an investigation.â
But Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that unseating a senator is âseveral steps removed from where we are today,â arguing that Trump needs to âdo more when it comes to this situation in Alabama.â
Asked about Moore, Trump more recently has told reporters traveling with him in Asia that âI have not seen ver y much about him, about it.â
âAnd, you know, I put out a statement yesterday that heâll do the right thing,â the president added.
After the allegations surfaced last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying that Trump âbelieves that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.â
She also said âa mere allegationâ should not âdestroy a personâs life.âSource: Google News