‘Our attorney is a Jew’: Roy Moore battles bigotry claims on eve of Alabama vote
The Republican candidate Roy Moore and supporters have mounted a series of extraordinary character defenses as his US Senate race with Democrat Doug Jones headed towards a photo finish.
At a rally on Monday night, Moore’s wife, Kayla, rejected accusations of antisemitism, offering as proof: “One of our attorneys is a Jew.”
And a war veteran claimed Moore must be innocent of accusations that he molested girls because he was once taken to a brothel in Vietnam but did not patronise it.
Jones held his final event in Birmingham, a bastion of the civil rights struggle, where he was joined by three prominent African Americans including basketball hall of famer Charles Barkley, who made a last-ditch plea to Alabama: “At some point we’ve got to stop looking like idiots to the nation.”
The rallies came on the eve of one of the most bitterly contested Senate elections in recent history.
Moore – a social conservative firebrand who has been treated as a pariah by many Republicans since allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls were first published last month – held his rally in a barn in rural south-east Alabama.
He complained he had been attacked unfairly by articles asking “Where is Roy Moore?” on the weekend before the election. “I took two and a half days out of this mess to take my wife and relax at West Point,” he said.
The former Alabama supreme court chief justice – who was twice removed from that post for violating judicial ethics – also expressed outrage at Republicans who believed the claims against him but would vote for him as the lesser of two evils. “I’m going to tell you, if you don’t believe in my character, don’t vote for me.”
However, most of the rally was designed to cast him as the victim and rebut the multiple allegations, which include that Moore touched a 14-year-old girl inappropriately.
His wife, Kayla, took the stage to deny that her husband was prejudiced and “doesn’t support the black community”. He “appointed the very first black marshal to the Alabama supreme court”, she went on. “Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews … One of our attorneys is a Jew.”
There was also a long anecdote from Bill Sailing, who said he served with Moore in Vietnam. Sailing claimed a comrade led them to a “private club” to have “a couple of beers”. When they arrived, they realised the man had taken them to a brothel. “I could tell you what I saw but I don’t want to,” Sailing said. “There were certainly pretty girls. And they were girls. They were young. Some were very young.”
But Moore, he added, was shocked and said: “We shouldn’t be here, I’m leaving.”
Sailing said he could not comprehend that Moore “was prepared to give that all up by committing a crime against a 14-year-old. I’m not buying it.”
The rally had been themed around “draining the swamp” and featured a fake swamp with plastic alligators. Many speakers framed the election as a referendum on Donald Trump’s “economic miracle”, as Breitbart News head Steve Bannon described it.
The former White House chief strategist appeared to take a swipe at Ivanka Trump’s criticism of Moore – she said “there is a special place in hell for those that prey on children” – telling the crowd: “There is a special place in hell for Republicans that know better.”
Bannon claimed establishment Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Richard Shelby of Alabama were using Trump as a vehicle to pass a tax bill. “What they want him for is that corporate tax cut … As soon as they get that tax cut, watch what happens there.”
Alabama is usually safe Republican territory but the allegations against Moore have effectively made it a toss-up. Trump said in a robocall to voters that he badly needs Moore’s vote in the Senate. Barack Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden, recorded calls for Jones, who hopes to become the state’s first Democratic senator in two decades.
His campaign closed out with a modest rally for a few hundred supporters, including actor Alyssa Milano, in Birmingham. “This election is going to be one of the most significant in our state’s history for a long, long time,” Jones told them. “And we’ve got to make sure that at this crossroads in Alabama’s history, we take the right road.”
He made brief references to Moore, saying: “I believe those women.”
The candidate continued: “The majority of the people in Alabama say it is time that we put our decency, our state, before political party … It’s time, folks, that we say: No Moore!” The crowd responded with chants of “No Moore! No Moore!”
Jones – a former federal prosecutor best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for killing four black girls in a 1963 church bombing – was joined by Barkley, Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba, and Randall Woodfin, the new mayor of Birmingham, who said: “What’s under attack in Alabama and across our country is a sense of decency and integrity.”
Supporter Montal Morton, 45, who is African American, suggested a strong turnout by black voters could be the “tipping point” against Moore. “He has a history of divisiveness,” he explained. “He says he stands on conservative values but the God I serve is about peace and love. He doesn’t believe in those. If he won, it would be embarrassing. It will set us back 50 years.”
Meghan Saunders, 25, is a registered Republican but was spending the night at the Jones rally. “Mainly because he’s the candidate who’s going to represent all Alabamians,” she said. “Roy Moore has a very small view of the world and who the government should represent. The allegations against him are pretty disgusting.”
Saunders criticised the direction of the Republican party, embracing first Trump and now Moore, who she predicts will win: “It’s sad legislation is more important than standing up to alleged paedophilia and sexual harassment.”
via Guardian U.S. http://bit.ly/2szDb9W
December 11, 2017 at 09:18PM