Roy Moore may have lost his bid for U.S. Senate and his effort to disqualify the victory of Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), but Moore backers are still fighting, Politico reports. And their new target is Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), whose public distancing from Moore right before the December special election, some conservatives say, cost Moore — and Republicans — a Senate seat. A pro-Moore group, Courageous Conservatives PAC, ran a robocall attacking Shelby last month, and Moore supporters want the Alabama Republican Party to censure the senior senator later this month.
If fewer than four of the seven resolutions committee members agree to the censure resolution, it will fail and Moore's supporters will have to raise it again at the Alabama Republican Party executive committee meeting in February, where it would need the support of two-thirds of commissioners. The effort to damage Shelby, 83, is being funded by GOP donor Christopher Ekstrom in Dallas, who told Politico that Shelby has "destroyed what was a very strong GOP in Alabama." It's unclear if Moore himself supports the revenge campaign against Shelby, Politico says.
"It's stunningly dumb," said former Sen. Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the GOP primary. "The party needs to unite." The censure resolution is expected to fail, and it will have no real consequences for Shelby if it passes, though it could backfire on Alabama hard-right conservatives, Politico notes. "In 2014, Arizona Sen. John McCain was censured by state Republicans for what they called an insufficiently conservative record. McCain later hit back, launching an ambitious campaign to reshape the Arizona GOP, ridding it of conservative foes and replacing them with close allies." Peter Weber
On Monday, Minnesota state Rep. Mary Franson (R) told the local Fox affiliate in Alexandria that she had refused to meet with a local high school group, the Alexandria Area High School (AAHS) Democrats, because she doesn't "meet with partisan organizations," adding, "this has absolutely nothing to do with me not wanting to meet with Democrats — it has everything to do with the fact that we all have to be careful in today's world." Franson elaborated on a private Facebook post, ThinkProgress reports, suggesting the high schoolers might accuse her of sexual misconduct.
"A man's life was destroyed in AL," Franson wrote, pointing to failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. "40 years ago he met with minors alone and they recently accused him of horrendous actions. In the world of we must believe every sexual harassment claim, I would think my approach is beyond reasonable. All it takes is one perceived action and my life is destroyed. The life of my family is destroyed. That is a risk I will not take."
AAHS Democrats founder Jack Ballou, 17, found her reply perplexing when ThinkProgress read it to him (Franson has apparently blocked him on Facebook). "If any of what she said was true, she could have just told us initially that she doesn't meet with minors," he said. "I'm also so confused how she started defending Roy Moore ... last year I met with Mary through the student page program, one on one at her office. She had no issue then."
Ballou's group said it had requested to meet with its local representative to discuss issues of concern to high schoolers, like climate change and college affordability. He told Fox 9 that regarding Franson's refusal to meet, "I think it's really a microcosm of what's happening at our national stage — people just aren't talking to each other." Peter Weber
At Roy Moore rally, Bannon mocks Alabama grad Joe Scarborough for not making 'the cut' at Bannon's elite 'Yankee' alma maters
Stephen Bannon, Breitbart News chairman and former strategist to President Trump, was a main speaker at Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore's closing rally in Midland City on Monday night, and he pitched Moore as a Trump-like economic nationalist who will help bring an end to Trump's troubles in Washington. He had some barbs for the Republicans who have criticized Moore or stayed on the sidelines, including an implicit rebuke of Ivanka Trump, who'd said "there is a special place in hell for people who prey on children," as Moore is accused of having done. "There's a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better," Bannon said.
Bannon also had plenty to criticize about the news media, or "opposition party," accusing news organizations of trying to personally destroy Moore, presumably by reporting the collaborated accusations from several women about Moore fondling or dating them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Bannon made an ill-advised dig at Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, too.
"By the way, Morning Joe, you called me a Yankee the other day, just because I'm from Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy," Bannon said. "That's right, Joe, I got into some Yankee schools, Georgetown and Harvard, that I don't think you made the cut on, brother. Just because a Southerner went to a Yankee school, Joe, doesn't make you a Yankee." Scarborough, a native of Georgia, is a graduate of the University of Alabama — as is Moore, who got his law degree there in 1977. Scarborough saw the easy pitch and swung.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) December 12, 2017
Other speakers at the rally included former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Moore's former Vietnam War friend Bill Sailing, and his wife, Kayla Moore. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday's special election. Peter Weber
Mitt Romney's strategist says Roy Moore's 'creepy' behavior with girls would've gotten him beat up in Mississippi
Give Alabama some credit, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens said on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360. Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Senate in next Tuesday's Alabama election, "by every measure has violated the decency standard," Stevens said. "I mean, he's admitted to trying to date 16-year-old girls in his 30s. That's a creepy thing. People say, well it's just Alabama. Listen, I grew up in Mississippi. And every father I knew, if he saw a guy like Roy Moore in his 30s trying to date his 16-year-old daughter, he would've had a date with a baseball bat."
Stuart Stevens on Moore accusations: "I grew up in Mississippi. Every father I knew, if he saw a guy like Roy Moore in his 30s trying to date his 16-year old daughter, he would have had a date with a baseball bat" https://t.co/jO1mnEzz1B
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) December 8, 2017
Ed Martin, a fellow CNN panelist and author of a book called The Conservative Case for Trump, protested to Stevens, chief strategist for Mitt Romney (who has his own Moore issues) in the 2012 presidential race and a critic of President Trump, that none of the allegations against Moore came up in any of his previous political and judicial campaigns. Stevens had an answer for that, too. "I can tell you why it never came up," he said. "I did the  campaign when Gov. [Bob] Riley [R] ran against Roy Moore, and we beat him two-to-one. The reason this didn't come up is because Roy Moore was out there saying such crazy stuff that you didn't need to look into his background." Peter Weber
Anderson Cooper's interview with Janet Porter, spokeswoman for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, got off to a testy start Wednesday night, with Cooper asking why Alabamians should believe Moore over the several women who accuse him of predatory sexual behavior when they were teenagers.
"Your campaign has blamed an awful lot of people for accusations being made by women against Roy Moore," he said, listing "Doug Jones, George Soros, the DNC, Mitch McConnell, mainstream Republicans, The Washington Post, the 'lynch mob media' as you called them, homosexuals, transgender people, and criminals. Can you just explain to me how all these people got together and came up with this plot against Roy Moore? ... I don't know if there's like a conference call that Mitch McConnell and radical homosexuals are on, but it would be fascinating to hear that." "When you have false allegations that are generated by The Washington Post, there tends to be a pile-on," Porter said. "That's how a lynch mob works."
Cooper noted that Moore has spoken about abortion and gun rights, then asked "where the judge stands on a number of issues that he's spoken of in the past but not as much recently." Porter said she didn't know if Moore still believes that homosexual conduct should be illegal, that 9/11 may have happened because "we've distanced ourselves from God," that U.S. Muslims shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress, or that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S.
"You know, you can ridicule Biblical beliefs if you want, but it's not going to fly in Alabama," Porter said. "I'm not ridiculing," Cooper said, "I'm giving you quotes of exactly what your candidate has said, you're the spokesperson, and you ... seem either not to know what his positions are or unwilling to actually tell me what his positions are." Watch the entire interview, including Cooper's suggestion that Porter — from Ohio — is carpetbagging and lots of talk about the Bible, the Constitution, and Sharia law. Peter Weber
At Roy Moore's rally Tuesday night in Alabama, one speaker denounced the "fake news" and "all the lies from The Washington Post," which first reported that Moore, the Republican nominee for Senate, had inappropriate sexual relationships with teenage girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s. But it was the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner that reported Tuesday night that Moore probably started dating his wife while she was still married to her first husband — technically, adultery.
According to public divorce records, Kayla Moore and her first husband, John Charles Heald, separated on Dec. 1, 1984; filed for divorce on Dec. 28, 1984; and finalized the split on April 19, 1985, the Examiner reports. According to his 2005 book, So Help Me God, Moore met Kayla the week before Christmas 1984, writing later: "I was determined to get to know her, but Kayla, divorced and with a beautiful little girl, Heather, who was nearly a year old, was not interested in a relationship with anyone." Moore said they began dating "early in the new year," 1985, and dated for "about a year." They were married on Dec. 14, 1985.
"That would lead readers to believe the pair began dating in late 1984 or early 1985, a period during which court records show his bride-to-be was still legally married to Heald and would be until the spring," write Gabby Morrongiello, Emily Jashinsky, and Philip Wegmann at the Examiner. They quoted a source who said "that was always the assumption" about the Moore courtship.
Moore's campaign disputes this. "Regardless of when they met, Judge and Kayla did not date while she was still with her ex-husband or legally married," campaign spokesman Brett Doster said Tuesday afternoon, calling the question "really scraping the bottom of the barrel." The Examiner did not agree. "Amid an outpouring of misconduct allegations, Moore's campaign has clearly set the standard that details are important and should be vetted rigorously," the reporters wrote. "Why, then, should the inconsistencies surrounding Moore's story not draw his own credibility into question?" Read more at the Washington Examiner. Peter Weber
Bannon hits Mitt Romney's religion, family tree at Roy Moore rally, putting RNC chairwoman in a tough spot
Stephen Bannon, President Trump's former chief strategist and campaign chairman, headlined a rally Tuesday night for Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for Senate in Alabama, and he saved some of his harshest lines for Senate Republicans and other GOP critics of Moore. He took special aim at Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who had just posted a photo of his $100 donation to Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones — "Come on, brother, if you're going to write a check, write a check." Then he swiped at another Mormon, Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.
Romney said earlier this week that if Moore won the Dec. 12 election, it would be "a stain on the GOP and the nation," tackling Trump's stated rationale for endorsing Moore: "No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity." Bannon was personal in his counterattack, calling Romney a Vietnam draft dodger. "You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies," Bannon said. "Do not talk to me about honor and integrity," he added. "Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA."
That may be an uncomfortable line of attack for Trump, who was spared fighting in Vietnam due to college and diagnosed bone spurs, but it is also a hard hit on Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, a niece of Romney's who is also Mormon. On Tuesday, after Trump endorsed Moore, the RNC transferred $170,000 to the Alabama GOP to help Moore's campaign, The Associated Press reports.
When Moore spoke, he did not address the credible allegations from several women who say he sexually groped or pursued them when they were teenagers, focusing instead on his message of moral renewal. "We've got to go back to God," he said. "We've got to go back and restore the morality of this country." Peter Weber
The polls are mixed, and pollsters flummoxed, heading into Alabama's Dec. 12 special election for a Senate seat, with many Republicans leery of both Republican Roy Moore, credibly accused of sexual improprieties with several teenage girls as young as 14, and Democrat Doug Jones, because he's a Democrat. On Monday morning, President Trump moved from criticizing Jones to actively supporting Moore, playing on partisanship:
Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017
Trump repeated his criticism of Jones, a former federal prosecutor, in a second tweet. Republicans have 52 senators, enough to pass their tax cuts even with one defection, but Trump isn't the only Republican warming up to the idea of Moore winning the race. On Sunday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shifted from urging Moore to drop out of the race to saying he's "going to let the people of Alabama make the call" on Moore. Peter Weber