After Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s in 1979, supporters of the Christian fundamentalist candidate, along with the most prominent platforms of the so-called alt-right, have attempted to defend his innocence and downplay the serious allegations he is facing.
In an effort to scoop the damming reporting, which was published by The Washington Post on Thursday, Breitbart News published a story that not only attempted to defend Moore's alleged actions but also framed the Post's story as a political hit-job.
"The alleged incidents, all of which Moore strongly denies, allegedly took place between 1977 and 1982," Breitbart wrote. "Breitbart News obtained details of the forthcoming Post story from the newspaper’s letter detailing the allegations sent to Moore’s campaign for comment."
In a statement to Breitbart, Moore said, "These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign."
"This garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation," Moore's campaign said separately.
A Breitbart editor then argued on MSNBC that, "There's only one relationship alleged that was problematic."
Breitbart Editor: "There's only one relationship alleged that was problematic." pic.twitter.com/ZK8EV0Y3vn
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 9, 2017
An Alabama state auditor, Republican Jim Zeigler, bluntly told reporters he doesn't see anything wrong with Moore's accused behavior.
"There is nothing to see here," Zeigler told The Washington Examiner. "The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse."
Ziegler then cited the Bible in an attempt to justify Moore's alleged actions, "Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist." Ziegler added, "Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."
By that logic, Moore may soon give birth to the second coming of the son of God.
Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall also downplayed the allegations.
"It was 40 years ago," Hall told Daniel Dale, a reporter for the Toronto Star. "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." He added, "The other women that they’re using to corroborate: number one, one was 19, one was 17, one was 16. There’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old single male asking a 19-year-old, a 17-year-old, or a 16-year-old out on a date."
Other Alabama Republicans were quick to question the veracity of Moore's accusers.
“They got some pictures? That’ll do,” Alabama State Rep. Ed Henry, Donald Trump’s Alabama campaign co-chairman, told TPM. “You can’t sit on something like this for thirty-something years with a man as in the spotlight as Roy Moore and all of a sudden three weeks before a senatorial primary all of a sudden these three or four women are going to talk about something in 1979? I call bull. It’s as fabricated as the day is long.”
Alabama Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow told the Star's Dale that he'd vote for Moore even if he had committed a sex crime against a teenage girl.
"I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn't want to vote for Doug [Jones]," Pow said, referring to Moore's election opponent. "I'm not saying I support what he did."
Me: "The story said she said he tried to get her to touch his genitals." Hall: "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."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
After a long pause, Alabama Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow tells me he'd vote for Roy Moore even if Moore did commit a sex crime against a girl. "I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn't want to vote for Doug," he says. "I'm not saying I support what he did." — Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
But despite Moore's past, and his future plans for office, several GOP members of the U.S. Senate made it quite clear that they don't want Moore to attempt to join them, after Thursday's allegations broke.
"The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wrote on Twitter.
The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 9, 2017
However, other Republicans were quick to point out that Moore should only step aside if it turned out that the allegations were true.
"If these allegations are true, he must step aside," McConnell said in a statement, according to CNN.
"If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, tweeted.
If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate. — Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) November 9, 2017
Moore, who has a long and controversial past, had received support from former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is on a quest to unseat the establishment Republicans in Congress who he views as a roadblock for Trump's agenda.
Moore defeated the Mitch McConnell and Trump-backed candidate, Luther Strange, in the Alabama GOP Senate primary in September. Trump immediately distanced himself from Strange following his defeat.
If only Republicans had acted the same way when more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual harassment. The White House has taken the position that all of the women who have accused the president of previous wrongdoing are liars.
“Mitch McConnell should know better to make a statement like he made unless he gets all the answers," Perry Hooper Jr., Trump’s other Alabama co-chairman, told TPM. We’re right in the political zone right now, the election’s December 12th. This is the same campaign issue the left ran against Donald Trump on, they’re doing the same thing against Roy Moore.”