Embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was interrupted by a protester — and by a comedian posing as a supporter — Wednesday evening as he spoke during a church service in southern Alabama.
Moore began his remarks by blaming liberals for the country’s political woes.
“Who are they? The liberals. They don’t want conservative values,” Moore said from the pulpit of Magnolia Springs Baptist Church in Theodore. “They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender … who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life. Putting man above God. And the government is our god. They are the Washington establishment. They want to keep everything the same so they don’t lose their position, power and prestige.”
Moore then referenced reports of sexual misconduct brought against him. He said his family felt terrible about the allegations. “It hurts them to think and see what I’ve been charged with,” he said.
Moore said he believes his prosecution of drug cases when he was a district attorney angered certain people, and that this is at “the heart of this conspiracy” against him.
A protester then interrupted Moore’s remarks, yelling, “Are all the girls lying?”
As the protester was escorted out, a comedian known for crashing news events stood up and ironically defended Moore.
“That’s a man’s man,” the comedian shouts in video published by AL.com, referring to Moore. “Does that look like the face of someone who hits on teenage girls?”
The comedian, wearing a T-shirt with the words “Gimme Moore,” also was escorted out.
He identified himself to CNN as Jake Byrd, the stage name of a comedian known for interrupting news events as part of the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” TV show.
Representatives of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
CNN also spoke to the initial protester as he was escorted out of the church. The man did not give his name but said he lived in Alabama and “someone needed to stand up for the girls.”
The Rev. David Gonnella stood next to Moore at the lectern and called the protester a plant.
“I would remind everyone again that this is a worship service,” Gonnella said. “And by the way it is illegal to disturb a worship service. The next one to disturb the service will be turned over to the police.”
At least four uniformed police officers were in the sanctuary for the service.
“I understand how people can be deceived by lies. I understand that and I don’t hate them, but I just want to state my position,” Moore said.
Earlier, Gonnella asked a broadcast pool camera operator to train the shot only on the candidate during the event — and not to show the people attending — because he feared a possible attack from the terror group al Qaeda.
Alabama voters go to the polls on December 12 to replace Jeff Sessions, who is now the US attorney general. Moore is running against Democrat Doug Jones. Moore’s campaign has been damaged by accusations of sexual assault and that he pursued relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s.
Moore has denied those allegations, calling them “completely false” and “dirty politics.”
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will campaign with Moore next week ahead of the vote in the neck-and-neck race.