With the Alabama special election less than a month away, Republican leaders are making decisions on whether or not to pull their support for embattled candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of making sexual advances toward a number of young women in the 1970s and early 1980s. Yesterday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said she'll still vote for Moore, in spite of the allegations that have been made against him.
For his part, Moore has denied all of the allegations, and his wife, Kayla, recently said the claims were fabricated by liberal news media outlets seeking to destroy her husband's candidacy. Thus far, nearly a dozen Republicans have withdrawn their support for Moore, but many members of the Alabama GOP have stood by their candidate. On Thursday, Alabama GOP chairwoman Terry Lathan said the party would continue to back Moore, stating, “He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise.”
Now, another major Republican figure has affirmed their support for Moore — this time, it’s Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who told reporters yesterday that while she has “no reason to disbelieve” the women who’ve accused Moore of sexual misconduct, come December 12, she will vote for the chosen nominee of her party.
Many found Ivey’s answer a bit confounding. She expressed belief in Moore’s accusers while simultaneously casting doubt on their motivations, noting that the timing of the allegations is “a little curious.” And whether she truly believes the women or not, the allegations against Moore were not enough to keep her from supporting him. The governor told reporters she believes that it is important for Alabama to put a Republican in the Senate, to uphold the values of the party by voting on matters like Supreme Court justices.
MSNBC commentator Joy Reid accused Ivey of putting "party before honor" by expressing an interest in pushing forward the Republican agenda, no matter the candidate's character.
And Jon Cooper, the chairman of the Democratic Coalition, called the move "sick and hypocritical."
Democrats, of course, had their own fires to put out this week after radio host Leeann Tweeden accused Minnesota Senator Al Franken of assaulting her in 2006, while the two were performing together on a USO tour. Franken did not deny the allegations, and issued an apology to Tweeden shortly after they were made public.
Nevertheless, the president was quick to criticize the senator, tweeting that “The Al Frankenstien (sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”
After Trump took not time to criticize Franken, others have wondered why he didn't do the same for Moore. To date, Trump has not issued any direct condemnation of the Senate candidate, and in a press conference on Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president believes “the people of Alabama should make the decision” on whom they want their next senator to be. The president’s counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump, saying that he decided to weigh in on Franken simply because it was a “brand new story,” while the allegations against Moore were old.
Anytime he comments on sexual assault, of course, the president risks sounding like a hypocrite. He himself has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women.
When asked by a reporter whether Trump deserves to be investigated like Franken, Sarah Sanders dismissed the claims against the president, saying simply that the allegations had "been covered extensively during the campaign," and that "The American people spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president."
Sander's statement seemed to suggest that should voters choose to elect someone who has been accused of sexual misconduct, these allegations are rendered less legitimate. And if enough Alabama voters choose Moore, the allegations against him may well be written off in the same way they were for Trump.