In a speech on Sunday, Republican candidate for Senate Roy Moore said he was going to file a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post in response to their bombshell story that accused him of conducting a semi-sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl when the former district attorney was in his 30s. At a private event at Huntsville Christian Academy, Moore denied the allegations presented in the paper, which presented the testimony of four women who claimed that Moore had romantic relationships with them when they were only teenagers.
“About three days ago, The Washington Post published another attack on my character and reputation in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign,” he said. “These attacks about a minor child are completely false and untrue. And for which they will be sued.”
Moore received a standing ovation for his denial, one of several he reportedly received throughout the 40-minute speech. The embattled candidate also said that he had no intention of stepping out of the race, despite calls to do so coming from several prominent Republican lawmakers.
“We do not intend to let the Democrats, we do not intend to let the established Republicans, we do not intend to let anybody deter us from finishing this race,” Moore said. “We fully expect the people of Alabama to see through this charade. And we will continue our efforts.”
Moore told the audience that they should be suspicious about the timing of the attacks against his character. At no point in his decidedly-controversial political career did these allegations surface, so, he asked, why would these women suddenly decide to come forward so many years after the supposed incidents?
“Why have they come now?” Moore asked. “Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate. The Democratic Party – they don’t want to see me in the United States Senate. There’s the Republican establishment, which has spent over $30 million to keep me out of the Senate. Working together, they realized that my opponent is 11 points behind. They’re desperate.”
While there has yet to be any conclusive proof connecting Moore to the women accusing him, the allegations themselves have sharply divided Republicans. Some in the GOP are calling on Moore to drop out of the race and let his primary opponent – sitting Senator Luther Strange – run a write-in campaign against Democrat Doug Jones. Others say they either don’t believe the accusations or are willing to wait until all the facts are in before making the call.
According to Fox News, the allegations have even divided evangelicals, many of whom saw Moore as “their guy” before the Post story landed last Thursday.
“This is one of those excruciating decision moments for evangelicals,” said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “These allegations, if true, are devastating. If true, this is a very big deal.”
On the other hand, Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University said he’s standing behind his candidate. “It comes down to a question of who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser,” Falwell said. “And I believe the judge is telling the truth.”
If Moore does stay in the race, it will indeed be the voters who make the final call. They’ll get their chance to do so when they go to the polls on December 12.