‘Alabama deserves better’: Shelby breaks with Republicans to denounce Moore


Alabamas senior senator refuses to fall in line with Trump and RNC and says I couldnt vote for Moore, handing Democrat Doug Jones a new line of attack

Alabamas senior senator has rebuked Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in Tuesdays special election who has been accused of molestation and sexual misconduct by eight women, including several who were underage at the time.

In doing so, Richard Shelby refused to fall in line with Donald Trump, who was endorsed Moore, and the Republican National Committee (RNC).

The state of Alabama deserves better, Shelby told CNNs State of the Union, stating on national television a position he was already known to hold. I couldnt vote for Roy Moore.

I think the women are believable. I have no reason not to believe them. I didnt vote for Roy Moore. I wouldnt vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican party can do better.

Eight women have accused Moore of a range of misconduct, including an allegation that he molested a 14-year-old when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. In the days after the Washington Post first reported on the subject, Moore did not rule out that he had dated 17- or 18-year-olds, saying: If I did, Im not going to dispute these things, but I dont remember anything like that.

He has since denied all the allegations, accusing the Post of pursuing a partisan agenda.

Republicans including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell at first called on Moore to step down, and the partys fundraising apparatus withdrew its support. But President Donald Trump eventually endorsed Moore, arguing that he prefers Moores partisan vote to a Democrats opposition.

Not long afterward, the RNC renewed funding for Moore. Trump recently recorded a robocall ad for Moore and McConnell has retreated from his earlier position.

Shelby is among a handful of prominent Republicans who continues to reject Moore, though he said on Sunday he did not vote for Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate. Instead, he said he wrote in a distinguished Republican name.

I understand where the president is coming from and I understand we would like to retain that seat but Ill tell you what, theres a time we call a tipping point, Shelby said. When it got to the 14-year-old story, I said that was enough for me, I couldnt vote for Roy Moore.

Shelby hinted that should Moore win the election, a Senate investigation into his actions may follow.

I understand thats already being contemplated but that would be up to the leadership and others to do that, he said, insisting that Republicans had the same standards as Democrats, who recently pressed the Minnesota senator Al Franken, accused by eight women of groping and unwanted sexual contact, to resign.

Whatever you are that you would not put up with the conduct, bad conduct, from a Democrat or a Republican, Shelby said. The Senate will weigh, if Roy Moore wins, his fitness to serve.

The Jones campaign seized on Shelbys remarks, turning them into two 15-second digital ads.

Doug Jones, Roy Moores Democratic challenger, takes a picture with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Moore has declined to take questions or interviews in recent weeks, and on Sunday sent one of his top aides, Dean Young, to appear on ABCs This Week. Young dismissed the possibility of a Senate investigation.

Judge Moore is gonna be found telling the truth, he said, just like he always has.

Young echoed the presidents argument about the importance of partisanship and directly tied Moores fate to Trumps.

This is Donald Trump on trial in Alabama, Young said. If the people of Alabama vote for this liberal Democrat, Doug Jones, then theyre voting against the president who they put in office.

Young called the allegations against Moore fake news and suggested his accusers were motivated by fame. In this world everyone wants to be on TV, maybe thats the reason, he said. I need you people in Alabama not to fall for all these false allegations.

Moore has long been a controversial figure in Alabama, disliked by Republicans in Washington. In the primary this fall, Trump, McConnell and the party supported Moores more conventional opponent, Luther Strange.

Moore was twice removed as a state judge for refusing to obey federal court orders; has said homosexual conduct should be illegal; praised Vladimir Putin; and said America was great before the civil war even though we had slavery.

On Sunday, CNN published details of two 2011 conversations between Moore and a conspiracy driven radio show in which Moore said getting rid of all constitutional amendments after the 10th would eliminate many problems.

Amendments after the 10th include the 13th, which abolished slavery in the US, and the 14th, which guaranteed citizenship to former slaves and has been used in supreme court decisions including that which legalised same-sex marriage.

A campaign spokesman told CNN Moore does not support removing all amendments after the 10th.

CNN also reported that the interview with the Arrowstook Watchmen also included a discussion of the need for new hearings into what happened on 9/11 and Moores citation of Adolf Hitler in an exchange about Barack Obamas birth certificate.

In contrast to Moores absence from the campaign trail he has made only one public appearance in the last week, with former White House adviser Steve Bannon Jones has stumped energetically.

Polls remain too close to call. On Sunday Corey Stewart, a Trump-supporting Senate hopeful from Virginia who this week resurrected the birther conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, announced that he would help Moore get out the vote.

At a press conference in Selma on Saturday, Jones mocked his opponents apparent reluctance to campaign. He seems kind of like the groundhog, Jones said. He comes out every so often to see whether or not he can see his shadow.

Regarding the allegations against Moore, Jones has focused on his pledge not to embarrass Alabama. A campaign mailer risked controversy, however, in asking voters: Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would make him a senator?

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