WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Anti-establishment Senate candidate Roy Moore is fighting back against accusations of sexual impropriety.
On Thursday, the Washington Post released an explosive report alleging the Alabama Republican engaged in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old between 1977 and 1982.
Reporters for the Post conducted on-the-record interviews with four women, who asserted Moore, who was in his 30s at the time, accosted them decades earlier, with the most serious claim involving a woman who was 14 at the time. Alabama's age of consent is 16.
The Moore campaign was quick to respond. In a statement issued shortly after the publication of the Post report, campaign chair Bill Armistead declared:
Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena. ... National liberal organizations know their chosen candidate [Democrat] Doug Jones is in a death spiral, and this is their last ditch Hail Mary. … Moore is winning with a double-digit lead. So it is no surprise, with just over four weeks remaining, in a race for the U.S. Senate with national implications, that the Democratic Party and the country's most liberal newspaper would come up with a fabrication of this kind.
Armistead dismissed the accusations as "garbage ... the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation."
"He has been a candidate in four hotly contested statewide political contests, twice as a gubernatorial candidate and twice as a candidate for chief justice," he noted. "He has been a three-time candidate for local office, and he has been a national figure in two ground-breaking, judicial fights over religious liberty and traditional marriage. After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now."
Viewing the allegations through a spiritual lens, Moore warned the charges were meant to silence his Christian voice:
The Obama-Clinton Machine's liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I've EVER faced! We are are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message. The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me. I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values! Our nation is at a crossroads right now — both spiritually and politically.
After the news broke, Republican John McCain of Arizona called on Moore to end his bid immediately. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supported Moore rival Luther Strange in the September primary, issued a formal statement on behalf of Senate Republicans, saying, "If these allegations are true, he must step aside."
The White House was cautious in its response. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday, "Like most Americans, the president does not believe we can allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."
The political and media Establishment were quick to pile on Moore and his populist backer, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, is blasting the Washington Post report as a political hit piece.
He compared the accusations levied against Moore and the release of the "Access Hollywood" recording of President Trump engaged in lewd conversation — footage released by the Post just a month before the November 2016 election. The parallels, Bannon noted, are "interesting."
"The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump, is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now is that a coincidence?" he asked. "It's purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don't make any bones about it."
On Thursday, Armistead fired back against the Post. Noting the paper has endorsed Moore's Democratic rival, Armistead alleged that "for months, they have engaged in a systematic campaign to distort the truth about the Judge's record and career and derail his campaign."
"In fact," he said, "just two days ago, the Foundation for Moral Law sent a retraction demand to the Post for the false stories they wrote about the Judge's work and compensation. But apparently, there is no end to what the Post will allege."