- Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
- Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is facing more accusations of sexual misconduct against teenagers when he was in his 30s.
- His campaign released a statement to respond to the latest allegations.
- “If you are a liberal and hate Judge Moore, apparently he groped you. If you are a conservative and love Judge Moore, you know these allegations are a political farce.”
Republicans have been abandoning embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore en masse, but that hasn’t deterred him from casting his sexual misconduct scandal as a product of partisan politics.
After several women came forward to allege that Moore, a Republican, had sought out relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s – including one who said he committed sexual misconduct against her when she was 14, after another woman said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and presented a yearbook with what she said was Moore’s signature, after it was reported that Moore was banned from a local mall decades ago for bothering teenage girls, after a former colleague said it was “common knowledge” the Alabama candidate “dated high school girls” when he was in his 30s, after the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee withdrew their support, after top Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood by the women and publicly pushed Moore to end his campaign, after some of the most prominent members of the right such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon have wavered on Moore’s candidacy, after Ivanka Trump said there was “a special place in hell” for someone who had done what Moore is alleged of doing, and finally, after a few more women came forward to allege Moore of making unwanted advances when they were teens and he was in his 30s, this is the statement Moore’s campaign released:
“If you are a liberal and hate Judge Moore, apparently he groped you,” the statement, provided to The Washington Post, said. “If you are a conservative and love Judge Moore, you know these allegations are a political farce.”
You would be hard pressed to find a statement that more perfectly encapsulates the nature of politics in the US during the year 2017.
Nevermind that many of the women, in their own words, supported President Donald Trump. Moore’s campaign is now going all in on painting the allegations as a liberal conspiracy against their candidate, appearing to believe that the only way for their candidate to dig out of the situation is to play on the staunch divisions between the left and right in the country.
They’re banking on the idea that hardline conservative voters in Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the country, will buy into the idea that claims of sexual misconduct with women as young as 14 will be able to be brushed aside if they can convince a substantial voting bloc that this is only coming about to advance a liberal agenda and candidate in their state.
Polling on the race, while volatile, shows that the Moore campaign’s strategy could still help lead to a victory at the ballot box in December.
What the polls have found
In a JMC Analytics poll shortly following the initial wave of allegations, 29% of Alabama voters said they were “more likely” to vote for Moore after the first Post story, while 33% said it made no difference in their vote.
“It’s when examining how these responses correlate to the ballot test that it’s apparent how the partisan lines have hardened in this race,” the JMC report on the poll read.
Another poll, from Decision Desk HQ/Opinion Savvy, found that roughly 35% thought Moore should drop out as a result of the allegations, while 54% said he should not. Among Republican voters polled in the state, 73% said he should stay in the race while 20% said he should quit.
In a press conference Wednesday, Moore’s attorney made clear that the campaign is zeroing in on the yearbook signature displayed by one of his accusers, saying that it could be a fraud. Though he did not take any questions, Moore’s attorney sought to inject some level of doubt into one of the most startling of the allegations, a message that was likely intended for Republican voters in the state.
So too was the message that these allegations were nothing more than the Republican and Democratic establishment seeking to take Moore out.
“Dear Mitch McConnell,” Moore tweeted Wednesday night. “Bring. It. On.”
Moore doubled-down after Democratic Sen. Al Franken was alleged of sexual misconduct by a Los Angeles broadcaster who said he kissed and her without her consent. McConnell called for an Ethics Committee investigation of the episode.
“Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces. Mitch: ‘Let’s investigate,'” Moore tweeted. “In Alabama, ZERO evidence, allegations 100% rejected. Mitch: ‘Moore must quit immediately or be expelled.'”