Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon rose to the defense of embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama, on Tuesday night, calling the molestation allegations against him “a setup” to sabotage the “referendum between the Trump program and the Clinton Program.”
At least five women say Moore flirted with, harassed, assaulted, or molested them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Though the allegations date back decades, they are supported by people who say they were told at the time and contemporaneous writings, including a yearbook inscription and a graduation card. Local workers and police officers also say the then-prosecutor’s behavior was notorious and that he had at one point been banned from a shopping mall for harassing teenage girls.
But Bannon, in his speech, said the real crisis is that Washington does not care about Alabama, and that “a vote for Doug Jones is a vote for the Clinton agenda.”
Bannon’s tirade touched on several Republicans, including Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and came just hours after Trump staged an awkward photo-op to hail Republican unity. (Flake, who appeared in the photo with Trump, subsequently made a $100 donation to Jones, which Bannon mocked as insufficient and a “total embarassment.”)
Bannon also criticized Mitt Romney, who recently tweeted that a Moore win would be a “stain on the GOP and the nation,” for a different kind of decades-old act: going on a missionary trip instead of serving in Vietnam. (President Trump also declined to serve in Vietnam because his feet hurt.)
The latest polls show Moore and his Democratic opponent Doug Jones are neck and neck in the race, with Jones currently holding slim lead in the election scheduled for Dec. 12.