Roiled by claims, Alabama Senate race goes off the rails


roy moore
Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks
at a campaign rally, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in Dora,

Photo/Brynn Anderson

  • Roy Moore’s campaign for the open Alabama seat in the
    US Senate has been rocked by sexual misconduct
  • He has denied all of the accusations, villainizing the
    press for printing the stories, and encouraging his supporters
    to rail against the media.
  • The special election is December 12.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Shouting matches and threats. A feud with
a late-night television host. Standing ovations and standoffs
with the media. Long stretches without campaigning.

Republican Roy Moore’s supposedly smooth ride to the U.S. Senate
has become an off-color demolition derby since he was hit with
decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenagers.

Moore has made limited public appearances, leading to Democrat
Doug Jones, who held a flurry of events over the weekend, to mock
Moore for hiding.

“We’re on the campaign trail meeting all of you and meeting folks
here as no one knows where Roy Moore is,” Jones said Friday to a
crowd of reporters interviewing him.

Moore made three campaign stops last week. Adoring audiences in
little country churches still welcome the Bible-toting Moore. But
the campaign also has been punctuated by tense moments and odd
exchanges, including an online spat with late night television
host Jimmy Kimmel.

The Rev. Jeremy Ragland was taken aback by the furor after he
invited Moore to speak at a “God and Country” service held
Thursday night in the gym at tiny Bryan Baptist Church in rural
Walker County northwest of Birmingham. Ragland said he received
death threats and lewd suggestions about his own children before
the event, prompting a show of security that included uniformed
constables, a burly doorman and plainclothes bodyguards.

“I’m just a rural preacher,” an exasperated Ragland said
afterward. “When you’ve got people threatening to kill you,
saying your children should be molested, what are you going to

Moore’s campaign has been on the defensive since The Washington
Post reported claims that he assaulted a young woman and tried to
date other teen girls in the 1970s and 1980s. Moore was likely to
win easily before the story, but the fallout has given Jones a
shot in Republican-controlled Alabama.

doug jones
Jones, second from left, waves to a supporter as he walks in a
Christmas parade, Saturday, Dec, 2, 2017, in Selma,

Photo/Jeff Amy

The Post quoted a Donald Trump-supporting Republican claiming
Moore pursued her when she was 14 and he was 32, and that he
eventually stripped down to his underwear and touched her.
Another woman held a news conference in New York to claim Moore
groped her also, and other women said Moore pursued them for
dates while they were still in high school.

After days out of the public spotlight, Moore returned to
campaigning with dodge-and-jab tactics. He has avoided reporters
while speaking to enthusiastic audiences in evangelical churches
as he tries to rally his base.

Appearing at Magnolia Springs Baptist Church in Theodore, located
near Mobile in southwest Alabama, the former judge known for his
intense opposition to same-sex marriage blamed his political
enemies for the allegations.

“They’ve done everything. When I say they, who are they? They’re
liberals. They don’t want conservative values. They’re the
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. They’re socialists who want
to change our way of life, putting man above God and that
government is our God. They’re the Washington establishment who
simply wants to keep their job,” Moore said.

Moore — whose speeches typically include long, memorized
recitations of scripture and quotes from early America patriots —
got into an uncharacteristic Twitter spat with Kimmel after
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” regular Tony Barbieri crashed the event in

After a heckler interrupted Moore and was hustled out by
security, Barbieri jumped up in front of the pulpit where Moore

“That’s a man’s man,” Barbieri shouted. “Does that look like the
face of a child molester?”

That led to the social media knock-down between Moore and the
comedian. Moore’s campaign wrote: “@jimmykimmel If you want to
mock our Christian values, come down here to Alabama and do it
man to man.”

“Sounds great Roy – let me know when you get some Christian
values and I’ll be there!” Kimmel replied.

A crew from Fox News — the TV channel of choice for many
Republicans — were shoved by two event organizers when they tried
to film Moore entering a building before a rally in rural
Henagar, in northeastern Alabama. Elsewhere, Moore has dodged the
media by having security block access or using unexpected exits.

In yet another odd scene, about 20 pastors and activists in
Birmingham took turns praising Moore for his decades of support
for conservative causes. Afterward, speakers yelled down
journalists and one grabbed a videographer’s camera as reporters
attempted to ask questions. Moore spoke briefly during the event
but refused to take questions.

Longtime Moore aide Dean Young chided reporters for even trying
to question the candidate during an appearance on the steps of
Alabama’s Capitol.

“This Jerry Springer stuff is over,” she said.

Not yet it isn’t. Election day is Dec. 12.


AP writer Jay Reeves contributed to this report from Dora,

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