(CN) – Embattled Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore insisted Monday he has run a clean campaign, the same day The Washington Post reported that a conservative group tried to push a false story to discredit the paper’s work on sexual-misconduct allegations against Moore.
Saying he is “having to fight a spiritual battle,” the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court told a crowd of supporters in Henagar, Ala., that he faces opposition because he wants to bring his “knowledge of the Constitution and a God upon whom it is founded” to politicians in Washington who are resistant to his message.
“They’re confused about the Constitution, why it’s there, what it’s there for,” Moore said. “And they certainly don’t know how to talk about morality. That’s why we’re having dirtiness in campaigns.”
In recent weeks, Moore, now 70, has been accused by several women of acts ranging from trying to date them to giving them alcohol to sexually assaulting them when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s.
His accusers include Leigh Corfman, who claims Moore made inappropriate advances and had sexual contact with her when she was 14.
Corfman says Moore, then 32, first approached her in early 1979 outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala., when she was with her mother. After phone calls and meetings, he allegedly drove her to his home a few days later and kissed her. On another visit, Corfman claims Moore took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes except for his underwear before touching her over her bra and underpants and guiding her hand to touch him over his underwear.
Moore has said he did nothing improper.
Moore added his campaign has not run negative advertisements against his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. Jones has edged ahead in the race by less than a percentage point after the allegations surfaced. The special election between Moore and Jones to fill the Senate seat left vacant by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be held Dec. 12.
Moore’s comments on Monday came a few hours after the Washington Post reported that a woman tried to peddle a false story claiming Moore impregnated her when she was 15 and took her to get an abortion.
The Post’s investigation found the woman was connected with Project Veritas, a conservative group that secretly records conversations with members of the media and left-leaning organizations in hopes of catching instances of corruption or waste.
The woman, Jaime Phillips, tried to elicit opinions from the Post’s reporters, according to the paper.
For example, one reporter said she could not even predict what the impact of Phillip’s claims would be after Phillips asked for a guarantee that Moore would lose the Senate race if the paper published them.
But after researching the woman’s background, the Post declined to tell Phillip’s story. It decided to report her off-the-record conversations because she entered into that agreement with the reporters in bad faith, said the Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron.
After confronting Phillips, the Post’s reporters saw her entering the offices of Project Veritas.
On its website Project Veritas describes itself as “the most effective non-profit on the national scene, period.”
Critics of Project Veritas say the group produces heavily edited videos that change the context of what their targets say.
Before allegedly trying to trick Post reporters, Project Veritas’ founder, James O’Keefe, worked with Andrew Breitbart, founder of the right-wing news website that bears his name.
In 2009, about two years before his death from heart failure, Breitbart helped O’Keefe publish a series of heavily edited videos that showed members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, supposedly giving advice on how to run a brothel of underage girls. Because of the videos, ACORN lost funding and declared bankruptcy.
Today, the Breitbart website is headed by Steve Bannon, the former advisor to President Donald Trump who worked to get Moore nominated over his primary opponent, Luther Strange.
Bannon, who told Bloomberg that the allegations against Moore were “about trying to destroy a man’s life,” has sought to challenge incumbent Republicans with populist primary challengers.
Soon after the Post published its story on Project Veritas, Evan McMullin, former CIA operative and 2016 independent candidate for president, wrote on Twitter, “This is the sort of disinformation operation familiar to countries controlled by authoritarian regimes. It isn’t just a story about someone trying to embarrass the Post. It’s about a political movement’s assault on our ability to know truth.” Before running as an independent presidential candidate, McMullin worked in the U.S. House of Representatives as chief policy director for the Republican Conference.
O’Keefe was convicted in 2010 for scheming to make illegal recordings at the office of former Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. In 2013, O’Keefe paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit by a former ACORN employee who claimed O’Keefe filmed him without consent.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported before Moore’s rally started Monday that a staffer for the Moore campaign shoved members of Fox’s camera crew as they were trying to get a shot of the candidate, who was expected to use the front entrance of the Henagar Community Center but instead used a side door.
Moore finished his comments Monday by echoing what he said the night he won the runoff primary over Strange.
“I wanna join with Donald Trump, make American great again. And I know to be great again, we’ve got to be good again. To be good again, we’ve got to talk about something politicians don’t talk about, which is morality, the definition of right and wrong,” Moore said.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, more Republican lawmakers condemned Moore and said it would be better, in light of the sexual-misconduct allegations, if he simply stepped aside.
On a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “The Week,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Moore should “move on.”
“It is time for us to turn the page because it is not about partisan politics,” Scott continued. “It is not about electing Republicans versus Democrats. This is about the character of our country.”
Earlier on Monday, a White House official said President Trump will not travel to Alabama to campaign for Moore, despite showing support for him on Twitter.
Neither the Jones campaign nor the Moore campaign returned a request for comment Monday from Courthouse News.
Moore is no stranger to controversy. Before the allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, he was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court – in 2003 after defying a judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse, and again in 2016 for telling the state’s probate judges to defy federal orders on same-sex marriage.