(CN) – U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore said Thursday the allegations that he molested and tried to date teenage girls when he was in his 30s are an effort by establishment Republicans to derail his campaign.
“Many of you have recognized that this is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama,” the Republican nominee for a vacant Alabama Senate seat said at a press conference.
Moore said “now they are trying a different tactic” after his opponents spent millions of dollars to support his Republican primary opponent, Luther Strange, who was appointed on an interim basis to fill the seat left vacant by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Moore delivered the remarks at the end of a press conference organized by Janet Porter, president of right-wing group Faith2Action. Speakers at the event included Moore’s pastor, the Rev. Tom Brown, the Rev. Philip Benham of the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue and Alan Keyes of Renew America.
The speakers said they were people who knew Moore for decades and that they “stand with Roy Moore.”
“Friends, I know the man,” Brown said, “and he is a man of character.”
The press conference was organized in response to allegations that surfaced in the last week, beginning with reporting from the Washington Post, that Moore sought to date and molested girls who were in their teens when he was in his 30s.
So far, seven women have come forward, including 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.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” Corfman told the Post. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
But speakers on Thursday described Moore as a family man of over 30 years.
Moore himself said the allegations were not true and lacked evidence.
“The Washington Post certainly is not evidence,” he said.
Furthermore, some of the speakers saw the allegations and condemnation from the likes of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan as outside influence on an election in Alabama.
The Rev. Rusty Thomas, director of fundamentalist Christian group Operation Save America, told Alabama voters that Moore was their native son, that they knew the man.
“You need to send the strongest message possible to the powers that be,” Thomas said. “Alabama will not bow. Alabama will not kiss the ring of political hacks who have sold their souls to the devil to maintain their political power.”
Before Moore ran for the Senate seat vacated when Sessions was appointed attorney general, he served as chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court.
He was removed twice – first for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Justice Building in 2003, and again in 2016 for refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Moore said he wanted to get back to the issues such as cutting taxes and building the military, saying that no reporter has asked him about his stance on issues since the allegations arose.
“We’ve got to stop judicial supremacy, or we’re losing our form of government,” Moore added.
But not all Evangelical Christians support Moore’s view or the stance of the other people who stood Thursday behind the podium decorated with a picture of the Ten Commandments.
In a tweet Monday morning, Russell Moore, president of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote, “Christian, if you cannot say definitively, no matter what, that adults creeping on teenage girls is wrong, do not tell me how you stand against moral relativism.”
He continued, “This is why I spend so much time talking about nominal, culturally Christian ‘religion.’ It is predatory, soul-twisting, covers over violence and racism and molestation. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings life and joy and rest and peace.”
The allegations come a month before Alabamans head to the polls Dec. 12 to decide the race between Moore and his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones.