Roy Moore’s closing argument was an airing of grievances.
In his first appearance on the campaign trail in nearly a week, the Senate candidate in Alabama complained bitterly about how he’s been treated by the media, by supporters of his Democratic opponent, and by establishment Republicans. And, facing allegations of sexual misconduct that could cost him Tuesday’s special election here, he lashed out again at his accusers.
“I want you to understand this,” said Moore, who’s been accused of making sexual advances on a minor, sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, and pursuing romantic relationships with other teens. “The Washington Post put out this terrible, disgusting article, saying I had done something. I want you to understand something. They said these women … had not come forward for nearly 40 years, but they waited until 30 days before this general election to come forward.”
His wife, Kayla, had some grievances too. She responded to critics who have called her husband racist and anti-Semitic by noting his former black employees and their Jewish friends.
“Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews,” she said as part of an extended attack on reporters. “One of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends that are Jewish.”
(In recent days, two comments of Moore’s have particularly drawn scrutiny: a September remark, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, that the country “was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another” and a suggestion that the liberal billionaire George Soros was going to hell. Soros is Jewish.)
The Election Eve rally inside a special events barn in southeast Alabama featured a lineup of right-wing speakers, headlined by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Steve Bannon, the Breitbart executive chairman and former chief strategist for President Donald Trump. But Kayla Moore’s comments — and her husband’s outrage — stood out most. Polls have been all over the place in the race’s closing days, but the accusations against Moore helped turn what should have been an easy win for Republicans into a battle with Democrat Doug Jones. Moore’s frustration was evident.
At one point he alluded to Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican who doesn’t support him and who went on CNN on Sunday to say the “Republican Party can do better.” Moore didn’t mention Shelby’s name, only that he was among the senators opposed to his candidacy. The National Republican Senatorial Committee stopped funding Moore after the accusations.
“We’re up to our neck in alligators,” Moore said, playing off Trump’s “drain the swamp” messaging. “We’re up to our neck in people that don’t want change in Washington, DC. They want to keep it the same, keep their power, keep their prestige, and keep their positions.”
Moore also complained of “threats on social media for anyone who would back this campaign. We’ve been intimidated, other people have been intimidated, and we’re tired of it.”
The rally was the third Bannon has headlined for Moore, including one during a September primary — a contest in which Trump backed interim Sen. Luther Strange. But Trump has since become an unequivocal Moore supporter, even after the misconduct allegations.
Bannon and other speakers tied Moore tightly to Trump. “You know what they’re doing trying to shut up President Trump and Judge Moore? They’re trying to shut you up,” Bannon said.
Moore also had a message for Republicans who might be reluctantly voting for him anyway, eager to keep their slim advantage over Democrats in the Senate.
“If you don’t believe in my character,” he said, “don’t vote for me.”
Henry Gomez is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Contact Henry J. Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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