A few weeks out from Alabama's special election, Republicans in Washington are walking a fine line. They aren't directly endorsing Roy Moore, but they're also not pushing him to drop out of the race. Moore was accused by multiple women of making inappropriate sexual advances when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and two alleged he assaulted them. He has vehemently denied all the allegations, and many conservatives have stood behind him during this time, including a Trump adviser who compared child molestation to abortion in his defense of Moore, saying "there's no moral high ground" between the two.
Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to President Trump, told CNN's John Berman on Monday that the Republican Senate candidate isn't any worse than his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. "I think Judge Roy Moore was kind of a creep, and I think these are obviously very serious allegations against him," Stephen began. "But I also think that it is appropriate for the people of Alabama to make this decision." (Stephen Moore has no relation to Roy Moore.)
The economist touted the same argument the GOP has stuck with since the child molestation allegations surfaced: It's up to the people of Alabama to decide who they want to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Stephen Moore simultaneously called the Republican candidate creepy and disparaged his opponent, making it clear that he wants Roy Moore to win despite his alleged past.
"By the way, the Democrat is no saint, either," he told CNN, referencing Jones. "The Democratic candidate is for partial birth abortion in a state that's highly Christian and Catholic. So there's no moral high ground here."
Berman replied: "Except one is an alleged child molester."
However, Stephen doubled down on his claim that abortion is just as bad as child molestation, explaining that many Alabama voters view "partial birth abortion" (a term pro-lifers use to describe dilation and extraction abortions) as "tantamount to murder."
It's true that Jones is running on a pro-choice platform and promised not to support national legislation seeking to ban abortion at 20 weeks. As the candidate said in October:
I support a woman's right and freedom to choose what to do with her body. This is a decision between a woman, her doctor and her Lord. Who am I to tell a woman what to do with her body?
His views on abortion have made it difficult for some Republicans to abandon the GOP candidate to vote for him — in fact, a Republican woman was quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying that she's "torn between voting for a pedophile and voting for a person who believes in abortion." A recent JMC Analytics poll also showed that almost 40 percent of Alabama evangelicals are more likely to support Roy following the allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Stephen Moore's argument played into this conservative struggle that prioritizes protecting fetuses over children.
Four women have alleged Roy made sexual advances when they were between 14 and 18 and he was in his 30s. Two additional women claimed he assaulted them, one of whom alleged he forcibly kissed her when she was 18. The Senate candidate has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, calling it "fake news" and telling Fox News he doesn't "remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother." Moore even used the allegations as a fundraising tactic, claiming Democrats were spreading lies about him to discredit his campaign.
Although the White House said President Trump believes Moore would "step aside" if the child molestation allegations are true, his administration and most GOP leaders haven't explicitly called for the Alabama candidate to drop out. Stephen Moore equating child molestation with abortion further highlights how far the party is willing to go to rationalize disturbing allegations against its members.