Fifth Woman Accuses Senate Candidate Roy Moore
Fifth Woman Accuses Senate Candidate Roy Moore, An Alabama woman accused Roy S. Moore on Monday of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, the fifth and most brutal charge leveled against the Republican Senate candidate. Senate Republicans are now openly discussing not seating him or expelling him if he wins the Dec. 12 special election.
“I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch,” Ms. Nelson said, growing emotional as she described the assault, which she said happened one night after her shift ended at a local restaurant, where she was a waitress.
She said that Mr. Moore warned her that “no one will believe you” if she told anyone about the encounter in his car.
Ms. Allred displayed a yearbook that Ms. Nelson said had been signed by Mr. Moore, and the writing mirrored other examples of Mr. Moore’s signature.
Even before the news conference, Mr. Moore’s campaign described Ms. Allred as “a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle.” The statement denied again “any sexual misconduct with anyone” by Mr. Moore.
But in Washington, those denials were increasingly dismissed. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, declared, “I believe the women.” Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, the head of the Senate Republican campaign arm, said that the Senate should vote to expel Mr. Moore, a former State Supreme Court judge, if he won “because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
The day’s events seemed to harden the resolve of Senate Republicans to avert what they fear would be a nightmare situation going into the midterm elections next year: being associated with a man accused of preying on children.
“It’s drip by drip, cut by cut,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby, Alabama’s senior lawmaker. “It doesn’t look good.”
Mr. Moore responded with fury, not only refusing to quit the race but stating that the person who needed to step aside was Mr. McConnell.
“He has failed conservatives and must be replaced,” said Mr. Moore in a statement, appending President Trump’s trademark: “#draintheswamp.”
Publicly, Mr. McConnell, appearing at a news conference in Louisville, said he was “looking at” drafting a write-in candidate for the Dec. 12 special election. Privately, Mr. McConnell was doing more than merely looking. One idea being discussed, first brought up by two different White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, would be for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to run as either a write-in candidate or to be appointed to what was his seat should Mr. Moore win and be immediately removed from office.
Mr. McConnell is supportive of the idea and discussed it on Monday in a telephone call with Vice President Mike Pence that was chiefly about the Republican tax overhaul proposal, according to party officials briefed on the call. Mr. Sessions remains popular among Alabama Republicans, but his relationship with Mr. Trump has frayed since he recused himself from the investigation of the role that Russia played in last year’s presidential campaign.
The swap would be something of a win-win for Mr. McConnell and Mr. Trump — the senator is eager to rid himself of Mr. Moore and the president has been open about his disappointment with Mr. Sessions.
That they even discussed such a radical maneuver spoke to the desperate straits that Republicans find themselves in. If Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee, wins, it would narrow the Republican advantage in the Senate to a single seat.
But Republicans increasingly believe that enduring such a narrow majority may be a price they are willing to pay if it means keeping Mr. Moore from their ranks.
Should Mr. Moore prevail, Republicans believe the debate over whether he should be allowed to take and keep his seat could drag on for months. The Republicans’ legislative agenda, including on taxes, already faces uncertain prospects and could be swallowed in a maelstrom of controversy around Mr. Moore and his fitness to serve.
The implications for the 2018 elections could be even graver, Republicans fear, with several party strategists predicting that Democrats would brand them as the party of child sex abuse.
For their part, Alabama Republicans are warning of the perils of barring Mr. Moore from the Senate. A write-in campaign, they suggested, would prove fruitless and perhaps help the Democrats, while a move to block or expel Mr. Moore would further poison the relationship between the Republican Party’s leaders and its populist wing.
“If the people of this state go forward and select their U.S. senator as Roy Moore, it will be because there is a deep suspicion of what has been coined as the establishment in D.C.,” said State Senator Phil Williams, whose district includes Mr. Moore’s home county. “And if the establishment then chooses and tries to unseat, or in some way disavow, that candidate, it will create a backlash the likes of which the party has never seen before.”
Democrats, who have been restrained about their prospects in such a conservative state, tried to avoid inserting themselves into the Republican crossfire. But, they said, as more information comes out, Mr. Moore’s case that he is being smeared in a single newspaper article will crumble. By Monday night, an article in The New Yorker asserted that Mr. Moore had been barred from the mall in his hometown, Gadsden, for bothering young women, a memory that many in the town said they shared, though no one has found direct evidence.
“The more people that come out of the woodwork, the more women with similar stories, the more credible it becomes,” said Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster based in Alabama. “It’s going to become easier to see through Roy Moore’s nondenial denials.”
Mr. Jones is also quietly benefiting from the support of national liberals. He is to be in Washington on Tuesday for a $500 per person cocktail reception partly sponsored by a raft of well-known Democrats, including Senator Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, according to an invitation circulating among Democratic lobbyists.
Mr. Jones has been raising substantial money out-of-state — Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut helped him bring in $125,000 with a single email and handful of Twitter messages — and has had Alabama’s airwaves nearly to himself in recent weeks: He has aired nearly $2 million worth of commercials since Mr. Moore won the nomination in September while Mr. Moore has spent only about $300,000 on ads, according to strategists tracking the race.
Mr. Moore, because of his statewide fame, has never had to raise much money. But now that he is fighting for his political life, he urgently needs to recast the race to focus on some of Mr. Jones’s liberal views on guns and abortion.
But he may not have the money to mount any such assault and, with his party leaders shunning him, it is not clear who will fill the gap. Mr. Moore tried one approach Monday afternoon: trying to tap into the grass-roots loathing on the right toward Mr. McConnell.
“Mitch McConnell’s plot to destroy me,” Mr. Moore wrote in the subject line of a fund-raising email.
“Apparently Mitch McConnell and the establishment G.O.P. would rather elect a radical pro-abortion Democrat than a conservative Christian,” he added.