Republican women wrestle with what to believe about Roy Moore, how to vote
At least nine women have accused Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore of a range of inappropriate behavior, but one seems to stick out above the rest – at least for many conservative women voters in Alabama.
“I feel like Leigh Corfman is the thing sticking to him that he really can’t shake,” said Dana McCain, a Christian writer and speaker in Dothan, Ala.
Corfman was the first accuser to come forward publicly, describing in a deeply sourced Washington Post story about being 14 when Moore, who was in his early 30s, took her to his house and touched her while they were both clad only in their underwear. Other women have accused him of inappropriate romantic overtures.
“Because she’s the youngest, if her story was true, then that was a crime,” said McCain. “It wasn’t just something that creeps us out because he was a 32-year-old chasing 17-year-olds.”
Leah Dicus, a nurse anesthetist in Huntsville, Ala. agrees.
“To me, (Corfman) is really the only person that has a real case for keeping him out of office,” she said. For her, the sexual misconduct allegations of Corfman and of Beverly Young Nelson were the most egregious. But Nelson’s credibility has been called into question after she told ABC News this week that she added a date and location to an entry she says Moore wrote in her yearbook around the time that he tried to force her to perform oral sex on him.
As some conservative media point to that omission as proof that Moore’s accusers can’t be believed, GOP women in Alabama are left to weigh just what – and who – they believe.
One poll this week found that 6 in 10 white women in Alabama are likely to vote for Roy Moore. In the same poll, only about four in 10 said they believe Moore made unwanted sexual advances toward his accusers.
Moore has denied he did anything wrong.
Some of Moore’s accusers have said they are Republicans. And their fellow Republican women could help determine the outcome of a Senate race that pits Moore against Democrat Doug Jones.
When the accusers coming forward look and sound like your aunt, your neighbor, the woman who leads your small group Bible Study – are you more likely to believe them? And would that make a difference in the voting booth?
“I keep seeing (on the news), 10 women, eight women,” said Jane Walker, a CPA in Hartselle, Ala. She’s leaning toward voting for Moore. “What I see and what I read is two women have accused him of molestation. The rest of the women accused him of, 38 years ago, using poor judgment in discerning who he could date, in a county where there probably weren’t a whole lot of women ages 25-45 he could date.”
And Nelson’s amending her story has been hailed in some conservative circles as a damning blow to her credibility – and the credibility of the other accusers.
“I’m certainly frustrated with Nelson, as she has just made it that much more difficult for credible women to be believed,” said Tracy James of Birmingham, Ala.
James, a lifelong Republican who was once a staffer for former Sen. Jeff Sessions and for the Republican National Committee, plans to vote for Democrat Doug Jones in this election. Her cousin is former Alabama Gov. Fob James, who held the governorship first as a Democrat and later as a Republican.
“As for those Moore supporters ready to pounce – they are exactly why victims of sexual assault resist coming forward,” she said.
For some, however, Nelson sacrificed her credibility before she changed her story. Appearing alongside controversial and left-leaning women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred didn’t do her any favors with deeply conservative women.
“I’d give anything if she had not attached herself to Gloria Allred,” said McCain. “If she had gone to a credible journalist rather than an attorney that people in Alabama are going to see as a left-wing elitist.
“That cost her something, right out of the gate, when she came out with Allred as her adviser.”
Abbey Johnston, a Mobile-area attorney and lifelong Republican, said much the same.
“When Gloria Allred came on TV (at the press conference), I did roll my eyes,” said Johnston. “Why did you have to get her involved?”
But – abortion
McCain, who plans to write in a conservative candidate on the ballot on Tuesday, has written editorials in her hometown newspaper, The Dothan Eagle, urging Christian voters like herself to think hard before voting for Moore.
She’s found conservative women – and Republican voters in general – divided into two camps when it comes to considering the trustworthiness of Moore’s accusers.
“There are those who have been so conditioned to distrust the mainstream media that they discounted the first batch of accusers right out of hand because it was reported by The Washington Post,” she said. “I find that extraordinarily frustrating because most of the people I’ve talked to that have discounted that story have not even read it to see how deeply sourced it was.”
Then there’s the other camp, who are willing to believe the accusers but will still vote Republican – to vote for Moore – on election day.
“There are those who say there is an awful lot of smoke there, now that we’re up to nine accusers, and maybe there’s a little bit of fire there, but – abortion,” said McCain.
It’s an issue has led some pro-life women to characterize the election as a choice between an accused child molester and a “baby killer.”
McCain, who said she is pro-life but unwilling to vote for Moore, sympathizes with women who find the idea of voting for a pro-choice candidate repugnant.
“It’s a significant issue to me personally, that I invest a lot of time and money into in order to make it better,” she said of the abortion debate. She thinks the solution to reducing the number of abortions won’t come from a legislative decision, so “it’s easier to me to say I’ll take a loss on this Senate seat rather than set fire to my integrity and vote for a man who I don’t think is capable or fit for the office.”
Older vs. younger
Johnston, the attorney, is in her late 20s and a lifelong Republican. She worked for Sen. Jeff Sessions on the Senate Judiciary Committee and interned with Luther Strange while in law school. She’s never been a supporter of Roy Moore and plans to vote for Doug Jones.
“Most of my friends I work with or know, pretty much everybody my age, they don’t want to vote for him,” she said. “He’s an embarrassment.”
She said the age gap might explain why some younger conservative women like herself are less concerned with asking why Moore’s accusers didn’t come forward sooner, and are more inclined to believe them.
“The time is different now than 20 years ago,” she said.
McCain said Republican women in their 20s, 30s and 40s seem to be more willing to break away and vote for Doug Jones, write in a candidate or stay home in protest.
“Republican women my mom’s age and a little older are looking for a reason to vote for Roy Moore, and many will,” she said. “They will dismiss these allegations as fake news or will justify and rationalize in order to vote for him.”
Some young Republican groups, like the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans and the Young Republican Federation of Alabama have been vocal about withdrawing their support for Moore in the wake of the allegations. Others, like the Baldwin County Young Republicans have remained supportive.
‘I know people’
Corfman, perhaps more than any other Moore accuser, has benefitted from vocal public support from family and friends.
“I know people from Gadsden,” said Johnston, “people who I highly respect, who don’t normally post about politics (on social media), who say I know this person and she would not lie.
“That carried a lot of weight with me.”
Voters who could dismiss stories in the mainstream media as “fake news” might find it harder to discount stories from people they know.
“It’s very hard (to disbelieve) when you listen to Corfman’s story and the amount of detail she remembers and the fact she has friends and family who will go on the record,” said McCain. “She seems solid.
“It’s really hard to explain her away.”
via Real-Time News from AL.com http://bit.ly/2zzWl2c
December 10, 2017 at 01:51PM