As It Happens

Nothing will sway Alabama voters from 'the cult of Roy Moore,' says political columnist

Sexual assault allegations won't sway Roy Moore's hardline supporters in Alabama, says local columnist Josh Moon.
Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, has been accused of sexual assaulting several minors. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Story transcript

Nothing will sway hardline Roy Moore supporters from voting for him in the upcoming Alabama Senate election, says local columnist Josh Moon.

Another woman came forward Monday to say that Moore sexually assaulted her in 1979 when she was 16 years old. Moore was 32 at the time.

This comes four days after the Washington Post reported Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with other teenage girls decades ago.

Moore has dismissed the allegations as "a witch hunt."

Moon, who has called Moore the "posterboy for what is wrong in Alabama politics," spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about why he doesn't think these stories will crack a dent in the Republican candidate's fiercely loyal support base.

Here is part of that conversation.

What impact will these latest allegations have on Roy Moore's popularity in Alabama?

That is a difficult question to answer. And it shouldn't be, I understand. And I understand how hard it is for people outside of here to kind of fathom that. But Roy Moore is a unique candidate for office in that he has long been on this island kind of out by himself. He has no need of the party support from either side.

He has his own brand of supporters who have stuck with him since early days of putting up the Ten Commandments in his courtroom in Gadsden that drew some attention. And he figured out rather quickly that that sort of thing would become popular with people and so a few years later there he was putting the big stone monument of the Ten Commandments in the judicial building [in Montgomery], leading to his first eviction as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

He turned that into basically a profession for himself and kind of a cult-like following.

This Nov. 12, 2003 file photo shows Roy Moore looking at a Ten Commandments display as he arrives at the Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)

There's substantial allegations going on here and yet that will not shake voters in Alabama? You feel it's unlikely that will change their minds?

Not all voters. But there are a hard line of a Roy Moore supporters here who have supported him throughout this time and they're going to support him, they're going to believe him, and they would literally drink the Kool-Aid if he handed it to them.

There was an opinion poll last week in Alabama showing that 29 per cent of people were now more willing to vote for Roy Moore in light of the allegations which were out at that point. ... How is that?

Those are those people that are kind of in the cult of Roy Moore here, that believe that Christianity is under attack, that gay marriage is destroying traditional marriage.

I believe what this has done to him here is kind of eroded steadily the people who were kind of going to hold their nose and vote for Roy Moore because they couldn't bring themselves to vote for the Democrat or wanted to vote against the Democrat in this election.

I think those people are now not necessarily going to vote for Doug Jones, his opponent, but I believe they're staying home.

Beverly Nelson, left, reacts as she reads a statement to reporters with attorney Gloria Allred during a news conference in New York announcing new allegations against Moore. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

What can you tell us about the religious-based support?

It leaks in way more than it should and has been used traditionally in this state to kind of keep us in this perpetual state of poverty and corruption that takes place in Alabama government.

If you just look at the last election cycle here we have, of course, Roy Moore, who was removed for the second time as chief justice, our house speaker was convicted of a dozen ethics violations, our governor was convicted of campaign finance violations.

Often these people have come to power and have used the Bible and this moral, holier-than-thou sort of approach to get themselves elected — and we continue to fall for it.

But at the same time, you have so many Republicans who are condemning what's going on. ... Does that have any affect on Alabama, if the Republican Party says this doesn't pass he smell test?

No, because if you recall it was the Republican Party, including the president and vice-president who were backing Luther Strange, Roy Moore's opponent in this primary and special election, to the point of Donald Trump coming here stumping for Luther Strange.

Despite all of that, Roy Moore pretty well smacked him down in the primary race and the run-off.

Alabama voters have kind of traditionally bucked that national "We're gonna kinda tell you who to vote for" sort of thing, so they're not going to pay attention to the national party on this.