Republican Roy Moore said Alabama voters in Tuesday’s US Senate special election should not “ignore what they believe” about the sexual allegations he faces.
“I’m going to tell you, if you don’t believe in my character, don’t vote for me,” he said Monday night at his election eve rally here in Alabama’s Wiregrass region, a Moore stronghold in the state’s rural southeastern corner.
Moore’s comments came after an impassioned defense from a former Army friend, prominent conservative supporters including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Moore’s wife.
“I love him, I trust him and you should, too,” Kayla Moore said.
A three-hour drive north in Birmingham, Democrat Doug Jones was holding his final rally in the special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions — where the allegations against Moore were also in focus.
“At some point, we’ve got to stop looking like idiots to the nation,” said retired basketball star Charles Barkley, who played at Auburn University and is supporting Jones. “I love Alabama, but at some point we have to draw a line in the sand and show we’re not a bunch of damn idiots.”
“We’ve got to make sure at this crossroads in Alabama’s history, we take the right road,” Jones said.
The election in the reliably Republican state is a referendum on Moore. And his own nearly two-and-a-half hour rally was largely an outburst of anger directed at the national media and Democrats who have seized on the accusations he faces in an effort to help Jones win.
Moore has been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s — including molesting a 14-year-old and assaulting a 16-year-old.
Moore denounced the “terrible, disgusting” reporting of The Washington Post, which first reported a woman’s accusation that he had pursued a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 and he was 32.
Crowd members yelled “liars!” and booed.
Kayla Moore argued that her husband is no “bigot,” defending his treatment of African-Americans, women and Jewish people, noting that “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, suggested — without any evidence — that the women levying the allegations against Moore are being paid to do so.
“Anytime you see money and power involved, you’ve got to look for who’s benefiting,” he said. “Did somebody receive money? … It takes time to dig those things out.”
Bannon and other out-of-state speakers whipped up the crowd’s anger at Republicans who have abandoned Moore in the wake of the sexual allegations.
The loudest “boo” of the night was directed at Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, who criticized Moore on CNN on Sunday.
“There’s a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better,” Bannon said, in a remark that echoed Ivanka Trump’s comment when she was asked about Moore that there is a “special place in hell” for those who prey on children.
Bannon and others touted President Donald Trump’s support for Moore, casting the election as a referendum on the President’s agenda.
“It’s an up-or-down vote tomorrow between the Trump miracle and the nullification project,” Bannon said.
Moore, meanwhile, sounded his usual religious notes.
“I want to make America great again with President Trump,” he said. “I want America great. I want America good, but she can’t be good till we go back to God.”
Alabama voters, Moore said, are “not going to stand by and let other people from out of state and money from California control this election.”
He said the United States must “recognize God” and argued that Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington have failed to do so.
“In this country, we have explored the temple built by the Democrat and the Republican party, and found that they have idols that do not hear us and do not see us,” he said.
The event featured at times bizarre rhetoric from speakers who said Alabama voters won’t have their decisions made for them by out-of-state forces — even while those speakers were from out of state themselves.
“Nobody can come down here and tell the folks of Alabama what to do,” said Bannon, who noted he is from Virginia.
Moore has been a sparse presence on the campaign trail since the sexual allegations emerged, and he disappeared — with aides refusing to answer questions about where he was — over the final weekend. He told the crowd he’d taken his wife to West Point for “two and a half days” to rest from an “odd” campaign.