The standard line from Senate Republicans in Washington, D.C., has been that Alabama candidate for senator Roy Moore must step down if the allegations of child molestation against him are proven to be true. (Moore has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual misconduct, calling them "absolutely false.")
Some say that he should step aside now, and others have floated the idea of expelling him from the Senate if he's ultimately elected. But that's not what you'll be hearing from many of his Republican colleagues in the state of Alabama. Elected Republicans who are publicly defending Moore despite the allegations are almost all state- or county-level officials.
The most searing condemnations from Alabama politicians still
include the "if true" caveat. Alabama's other senator, Sen. Richard Shelby, initially said in a statement, "If that's true, I don't believe there'd be any place for him in the United States Senate." If true. Since then he has told reporters Moore should quit the race.
But Republican Gov. Kay Ivey even said
she would vote for him now. "The election will be on December the 12th, and I will hold judgment until we get more of the facts," Ivey said. "People of Alabama need to know the facts. ... Based on what I know now, yes I will vote for him. But we don't have the facts. There may be some more facts to come out. But he is the party's nominee."
So when you have the highest elected Republican in the state, a woman, willing to vote for him, it's no surprise that there are others who have defended him even more forcefully.
1 Ed Henry, Alabama GOP State Representative
Ed Henry, a state representative told AL.com, "I
believe, in this instance, the accused is the victim." In an interview with the Cullman Times, he explained why. If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion.
actually quite common for a victim of sexual abuse to refrain from reporting or wait years or even decades to come forward. Tom Tremblay, a former Vermont police officer who works to prevent sexual assault, told Vox about how power differentials are often at play — when it's someone influential, many victims fear they won't be believed. "Victims may wait days, weeks, months, years, decades," Tremblay told the website. When one victim comes forward, it's not at all uncommon to see other victims come forward, who are thinking, "Well, they came forward; now it's not just my word." And then we see the next victim says the same thing. 2 Jim Zeigler, Alabama State Auditor
Among those defending Moore is Jim Zeigler, the Alabama state auditor, who
referenced the Bible. Ziegler told the Washington Examiner: Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.
Ziegler also said there was "nothing immoral or illegal" about Moore's alleged behavior, acknowledging that it was "just a little bit unusual." (In fact, child molestation, an allegation Moore has vehemently denied, is illegal; the legal age of consent in Alabama is 16.)
And then there's
this quote from Ziegler, according to Montgomery Advertiser reporter Bryan Lyman: Even if you accept the Washington Post's report as being completely true, it's much ado about very little. Twitter had quite a difficult time with this. As one user wrote: I'm just trying to understand, is Jim Zeigler's argument that Jesus's dad Joseph was a pedophile just like Roy Moore...so it's all good?
Even biblical scholars
took issue with it too. Rev. Jim Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, tweeted that "comparing the allegations against Roy Moore in any way to Joseph and Mary is disgusting." 3 Jerry Pow, Bibb County GOP Chair 4 David Hall, Marion County GOP Chair
Daniel Dale also heard from
Marion County GOP chair David Hall. It was 40 years ago. I really don't see the relevance of it. He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She's not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.
When Dale clarified that Moore's accuser alleged that he tried to get her to touch his crotch, Hall responded:
Well, she said he may have TRIED to. But we're talking something that somebody SAID happened, 40 years ago. It wouldn't affect whether or not I'd vote for him.
Once again, that the alleged victims didn't speak up immediately is not a surprise. Somewhere between
67 percent and 90 percent of victims do not come forward, according to the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. 5 Riley Seibenhener, Geneva County GOP Chair
Geneva County GOP chairman Riley Seibenhener
differentiated what Moore did from more violent episodes. Other than being with an underage person — he didn't really force himself. I know that's bad enough, but I don't know. If he withdraws, it's five weeks to the election ... that would concede it to the Democrat.
Regardless of the force that was used, what Moore has been accused of is illegal — Minors cannot consent in Alabama. Moore was in his 30s when the alleged incidents happened. The
age of consent in the state is 16, the lowest and most common in the country. 6 William Blocker, Covington County GOP Chair
Covington County Republican chairman William Blocker
also prioritized voting against the Democrat, even if Moore is guilty of sexual abuse. There is NO option to support to support Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee. When you do that, you are supporting the entire Democrat party. 7 John Skipper, Mobile County GOP Chair
County GOP chair
John Skipper also attacked the accusers, according to Dale. These allegations that surfaced today — to my knowledge, they're all bunk. No credibility whatsoever. ... It does not really surprise me. I think it is a typical Democratic — Democrat — ploy to discredit Judge Moore, a sincere, honest, trustworthy individual.
Many have criticized this line of defense against Moore, which paints the allegations of
sexual assault as a partisan issue. 8 John Merrill, Republican Secretary of State
John Merrill, Alabama's Secretary of State,
refrained from commenting on whether Moore should withdraw from the race. But then he went on to attack the accusers in an interview with the HuffPost. It's odd to me that this information has just been introduced. In all the campaigns Judge Moore has ever run before — and he has run a lot of them, probably a dozen campaigns. It's very, very odd to me this information has just been introduced.
The timing of the
Post report has also been pointed to as a reason to disbelieve the allegations. Others have noted, however, that it's not at all unusual that Moore is facing such heightened scrutiny today — he is, after all, running for Senate. 9 Sam Givhan, Madison County GOP Chair
Sam Givhan is a county Republican chair who has
questioned the timing of the allegations, according to the HuffPost. I'm obviously suspicious. After all, some of these allegations are 40 years old. The man's been elected twice. Run two other times. Never came up before. Pretty amazing, the timing of this.
Twitter user @SurlyGurl09
had a theory for the timing. For people questioning the timing of allegations against Moore, these women have spent their lives watching this man enjoy a position of power in his home state. To see him become a member of the U.S. Senate was probably too much. How hard is that to understand! 10 Paul Reynolds, Republican National Committeeman From Alabama
Paul Reynolds, a Republican National Committeeman from Alabama, told
The Hill that the story "doesn't smell right." My gosh, it's The Washington Post. If I've got a choice of putting my welfare into the hands of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time.
Post interviewed four women for their initial story multiple times and a fifth one has now come forward. In total, the paper spoke with 30 people who knew Moore at the time in question.
Besides the Alabama defenders, there are
also big Moore supporters in D.C.: Steve Bannon and Breitbart News. The website has been running pieces that some say are trying to defend the candidate and accuse the Post of targeting Moore because he's a Republican. As long as they have local GOP officials to quote supporting Moore, that will be all that much easier.