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What Alabama voters think of the Roy Moore assault allegations

Another woman came forward on Monday to accuse Senate candidate Roy Moore of assaulting her when she was 16, sparking additional political backlash from his own party. But allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls haven’t seemed to shake Moore supporters in his home state. Judy Woodruff gets an update from Don Dailey of Alabama Public Television.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now back to the accusations of sexual misconduct against the Republican Party's Senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore.

    We turn first to Don Dailey. He covers politics for Alabama Public Television, and he joins us now from Birmingham.

    Don Dailey, welcome back to the program.

    So, we now have a fifth woman making serious accusations against Judge Moore. What is the reaction there?

  • Don Dailey:

    Well, we heard today from the head of the Alabama Republican Party in her first public statements since last week's accusations broke.

    And she said that it is her interpretation that support for Roy Moore, at least among the party loyal and among his loyal base, seems to be surging. Terry Lathan, who is the chair of the Alabama Republican Party, said today that there are no plans now to seek an alternate candidate or to endorse a write-in candidate in this race.

    She says anything is possible, but so far the state Republican Party steering committee, which guides her in making decisions, has not decided to meet and discuss this issue. And, again, she is saying, the state Republican Party chair, that Roy Moore's support seems to be surging.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Don Dailey, are people there saying they believe these women are simply making all this up?

  • Don Dailey:

    There are some within the Republican Party, especially those who are very loyal to Roy Moore, his base, who have said they don't believe these allegations, that they believe he is the victim of a political attack.

    And they question the timing, obviously, of the allegations released, coming only a month before the election. There are others in Alabama who have said they believe these accusations and that they believe Moore should step aside from the Senate race. They are largely either Democrats or independents or moderates.

    But Roy Moore's base, which is fervent and solid here in Alabama — and they have come out and twice supported him in both the primary and run-off elections — by and large seem to be sticking by him so far.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what about the growing number of Republican senators in Washington or from around the country who are saying that he either needs to step aside or they are at the very least withdrawing their endorsement?

  • Don Dailey:

    I think that is reason for concern among some here in Alabama, even some Republicans here in Alabama.

    But Roy Moore himself in the last few days has at least wondered aloud in public whether or not establishment Republicans in Washington may have been behind the release of these allegations, Republicans who might be worried about him being a maverick and not necessarily toeing the Republican line.

    That's been an open question of debate in this story as it unfolds here in Alabama. But Republicans, by and large, here in Alabama, at least publicly, are saying that they are standing behind Judge Moore for now.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what about the Democrats, Don? What are they saying?

  • Don Dailey:

    Democrats by and large are expressing a lot of concern about these accusations. They're saying that they believe these women who have come forward and they believe that the accusations alone are grounds for Roy Moore to step aside.

    Interestingly, Roy Moore's Democratic opponent in next month's general U.S. Senate election here, Doug Jones, has said very little publicly. He has acknowledged the scandal. He has publicly called on Roy Moore to answer these serious charges, as he put it.

    But his campaign narrative, as he has continued out on the campaign trail in recent days, has been focused more on his core message, things like health care and jobs and the economy, rather than focusing on the allegations against Roy Moore.

    He seems to be at least sitting back and letting the story unfold on its own.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just quickly, Don, going back to what you said at the very beginning of our conversation, that the head of the Republican Party in Alabama says support for Roy Moore is surging today, are they basing that on polls or anecdotally?

  • Don Dailey:

    I think it's probably more anecdotally. You may be aware that a couple of polls have been conducted here in Alabama since these allegations broke. And they have been back and forth on who is the leader of this race.

    These public polls have suggested that Roy Moore was still ahead. There are others that have suggested that he was tied with Doug Jones. And new reports — or new polls, rather, today went back to suggesting that he is leading by as much as 10 percentage points.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Don Dailey with Alabama Public Television, watching it all very closely, we thank you.

  • Don Dailey:

    Thank you, Judy.

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