Lawyer For Alabama Senate Candidate Works To Discredit Accusers
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
New allegations of sexual misconduct have come out against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. A woman tells al.com that Moore groped her at his law office back in 1991. Several other women have accused Moore of pursuing them when they were in their teens. One was just 14 at the time.
Moore denies all of this. And his attorney is working to discredit Beverly Young Nelson who accused the GOP candidate of sexually assaulting her. On Tuesday, Nelson showed reporters her high school yearbook, which she said Moore signed in 1977. Moore's attorney, Philip Jauregui, wants that signature examined by a handwriting expert.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PHILIP JAUREGUI: Look at the 1977 after Merry Christmas. Look at those two sevens and then look below at the 77. And I want to ask you. Do you think it was written by the same person?
MARTIN: Don Dailey covers politics for Alabama Public Television and joins us now. Hi, Don. Thanks for being with us.
DON DAILEY: Good morning.
MARTIN: So Moore's legal team going on, not defense, offense yesterday. How did that go down?
DAILEY: I think a lot of people were expecting a little bit more from this news conference yesterday - maybe more of an effort to tamp down these allegations, to discredit them in some way. And instead, the attorneys, as you mentioned, jumped on this yearbook inscription that Ms. Nelson displayed earlier this week, saying that they didn't think it was Roy Moore's handwriting, and they wanted a professional analysis of it.
So it left some people wondering, perhaps, maybe, is this all they've got? Of course, there may be more that they have that they're not tipping their hat on yet. But I think some political observers in Alabama were expecting a little bit more from the news conference yesterday as pressure mounts for Roy Moore to seriously address these allegations.
MARTIN: So you mentioned political observers may have wanted more from the candidate yesterday and his legal team. The Washington establishment is definitely putting on the pressure. Meanwhile, though, his supporters are not moved by any of this. What are you feeling?
DAILEY: Yeah, apparently not - that they're not moved. Roy Moore has enjoyed extremely strong support through many decades here in Alabama, through the many controversies that he has weathered. And they seem fairly unshaken even through these allegations, which are probably the most serious he's faced in his political career.
Many of the observers either say - or his supporters, rather, say that they don't believe these allegations, or they think that they don't have enough information to withdraw their support for Roy Moore. The narrative has been, from the Moore campaign, that these are political attacks against him designed to ruin his credibility in the lead up to the election next month. And many of his supporters seem to believe that stance.
MARTIN: I mean, we should point out, I mean, Mitch McConnell is no fan of Roy Moore. He wasn't a fan before these allegations came up. So it's not like they're grabbing for nothing when they make that argument. Has the Democrat in this race, Doug Jones, been able to close the gap in this race because Roy Moore was expected to just run away with it. Is it getting any closer?
DAILEY: It seems to be. Polling has been sort of back and forth here in Alabama over the last week or so. The latest poll conducted had Doug Jones up by several percentage points over Roy Moore. But again, it's been back and forth. So it will be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out.
Doug Jones has been carrying on with his campaign message of jobs and the economy and health care and has been leaving the debate over the sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore for the media to play out, so to speak.
MARTIN: Don Dailey of Alabama Public Television. Thanks so much for sharing your reporting with us this morning. We appreciate it.
DAILEY: Thank you. It was a pleasure.
(SOUNDBITE OF CIAN NUGENT AND THE COSMOS' "GRASS ABOVE MY HEAD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.