Roy Moore, the embattled Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, on Wednesday revived the anti-gay rhetoric that first thrust him into the spotlight years ago by accusing LGBT people and others of coordinating a “conspiracy” to discredit him and undermine his campaign.
Speaking at a south Alabama church on Wednesday, Moore suggested that this purported conspiracy is behind the sexual misconduct allegations that have been leveled against him in recent weeks. Several women have accused Moore of sexual harassment and assault, many of whom have said he pursued them when they were teenagers. One woman, Leigh Corfman, claims Moore engaged her in a sexual encounter when she was 14 and he was 32.
Moore, a former judge, reiterated his denial of these allegations on Wednesday, telling attendees at Magnolia Springs Baptist Church that he didn’t know these women and that their claims were the product of “dirty politics.”
Moore began his speech by listing the conspirators he said are eager to discredit him.
“Who are they? The liberals. They don’t want conservative values,” Moore said from the church’s pulpit. “They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender ... who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life, putting man above God ... They are the Washington establishment. They want to keep everything the same so they don’t lose their position, power and prestige.”
Moore, who opposes transgender rights and has said repeatedly that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal, added that he believes people angered by his prosecution of drug cases as a district attorney are at “the heart of this conspiracy” against him.
Moore made headlines in 2015 when, as Alabama’s Chief Justice, he ordered probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality nationwide. He was thrown off the bench over that effort.
According to Al.com, Moore was greeted by a standing ovation when he entered the church on Wednesday night.
Not all those in attendance were in support of his views, however.
When Moore mentioned that he had not ― until earlier this month ― been accused of sexual misconduct in his 40 years of public service, an unidentified man in the crowd shouted: “Are all the girls lying?”
Moore’s speech was later interrupted by a man wearing a “Gimme Moore” shirt who yelled, “Does that look like the face of a molester?”
That man was later identified as comedian Tony Barbieri, who has masqueraded as a Donald Trump supporter named Jake Byrd at political rallies for the late-night show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Both men were escorted out of the building, CNN reported.
Earlier on Wednesday, Al.com published a letter from Corfman, the woman accusing Moore of child sex abuse, demanding the Senate hopeful cease his “smears and false denials.”
“This is not political for me, this is personal. As a 14-year old, I did not deserve to have you, a 32-year old, prey on me. I sat quietly for too long, out of concern for my family. No more,” she wrote. “I am not getting paid for speaking up. I am not getting rewarded from your political opponents. What I am getting is stronger by refusing to blame myself and speaking the truth out loud.”