A “pro-family” rally in Birmingham, Ala., featured tributes to embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore by a parade of supporters — including one with a stalking conviction and one who has blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay marriage – but no comments from Moore himself on the latest accusations against him.
Nearly two dozen supporters from around the country gathered on the podium for a “pro-family” event in Birmingham, Ala., attended by Moore and his wife. After two hours of speeches, Moore gave a brief address before the host invited questions on “issues” from the assembled press.
Related: The women who have accused Roy Moore
The first question was if Moore had ever touched young women without their consent and if he dated teenagers when he was in his 30s. He walked off the stage without answering.
Moore has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by a number of women. The campaign has attacked the Washington Post, which broke the story of the first accusations last week, but local Alabama reporters have reported additional accusations, and claims from people who lived in the city of Gadsden in the 1970s that Moore’s alleged habit of approaching young women led to his banning from the local mall.
At a press conference Wednesday, an attorney for Moore said that the candidate’s supposed signature in a yearbook belonging to one of Moore’s accusers was a forgery. The lawyer did not address the woman’s claim that Moore had sexually assaulted her when she was 16.
During his remarks, Moore had asked for the campaign to return to the issues, but he has refused to debate Democrat Doug Jones because of what he called his opponent’s “very liberal stance on transgenderism and transgenderism in the military and in bathrooms.” Thursday afternoon the Alabama Republican Party issued a statement of continued support for Moore as a candidate, in the face of calls for his withdrawal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other party leaders. The White House said Thursday that the people of Alabama should decide Moore’s fate in the Dec. 12 election.
The “pro-family” event featured a number of speakers from across the country who had made controversial statements in the past. Moore himself has drawn criticism for a number of incendiary comments. He has said that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; that Muslims including Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., shouldn’t be eligible to serve in Congress; and that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.”
Janet Porter, head of Faith 2 Action, was the de facto emcee for the event. Porter, who worked on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, wrote in 2009 that Obama was a Soviet spy who planned to destroy America from within. Republican politician and activist Alan Keyes gave an opening prayer at the event. Keyes, who lost to Obama in the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois, filed a lawsuit questioning that his opponent was a natural-born citizen.
In apparent support of Moore, anti-abortion activist Flip Benham said, “I’ve got to just tell you media, if I had to go back 40 years and look at my past, I would be in serious trouble.” Benham was convicted of stalking a Charlotte, Va., abortion doctor in 2010.
Former Colorado state representative Gordon Klingenschmitt also spoke in defense of Moore. Klingenschmitt had previously stated that Obama was a demon, that allowing gay leaders in the Boy Scouts would result in child abuse and that members of LGBT community should not be allowed to teach because of their “immorality.”
Rabbi Noson Leiter said during Thursday’s event that Moore would stand up against “gay terrorists” and the “LGBT rights mafia.” Leiter had previously blamed Hurricane Sandy on the legalization of gay marriage in New York state.
Texas conservative activist and physician Steven Hotze also spoke out in support of Moore. Hotze had previously compared gay people to termites and Soviet infiltrators because he felt they were “[eating] away at the very moral fabric” of the country.
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