Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Thursday again insisted he will not step down from the race amid allegations of sexual misconduct that have piled up against him, saying calls for him to do so are part of the GOP establishment’s attempt to "steal" the election from him.
Moore spoke at a press conference alongside nearly 20 faith leaders who defended him, railing against the media for not asking questions on policy since The Washington Post reported on allegations that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
“What I want to do in this campaign...is get back to the issues which some are avoiding addressing,” Moore said at a press conference in Birmingham. “I haven’t had one question from the press or the media about issues since the allegations have occurred.”
Moore has vehemently denied the allegations and reaffirmed at Thursday's press conference that he's still running for Senate against Democratic opponent Doug Jones, despite mounting pressure for him to withdraw from the race.
A growing number of Senate Republicans have called on him to step aside and some are even floating expelling him if he wins the Dec. 12 special election. Alabama Republicans are defending him and argue that he can still win the race. But recent polls, including a GOP internal, show him trailing behind Jones in the deep-red state.
Moore, a vocal critic of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), reiterated his call for the majority leader to step down, accusing GOP leadership of trying to "steal" the race from him.
"This is an effort from Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama,” Moore said.
"I want to tell you who needs to step down: That's Mitch McConnell,” he continued to applause and cheers from the crowd.
Following his statements and speeches from faith leaders that lasted nearly an hour and a half, reporters attempted to ask Moore a series of questions about the allegations, but Moore walked out of the press conference without taking any questions.
One reporter asked if he touched any of the women who have accused him. Moore didn't answer the question and only shook his head.
“He’s already answered that question,” said Janet Porter, Faith2Action’s president who organized the press conference. “He has spoken repeatedly, he’s answered that question recently and it was answered sufficiently as was on Sean Hannity.”
Another reporter asked if he "categorically" denied dating teenage high school. Moore walked out during that question.
"You read his letter and it addresses that very clearly," Porter said.
Prior to the press conference and before Porter opened it up to questions, she requested that reporters refrain from asking Moore questions about the allegations, which she called “unsubstantiated.”
The press conference comes a day after two more women have accused the former state Supreme Court chief justice of making unwanted advances toward them.
Nearly 20 faith leaders from around the U.S. convened in Birmingham to tout their support for Moore, who many have known for decades. Those leaders delivered speeches that largely focused on discrediting the allegations levied at Moore and condemning Jones’s support for abortion rights.
Porter touted before the press conference kicked off that more than 200 people have signed onto a letter supporting Moore since it was printed at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.
“We are here because that’s the Judge Moore you have not been seeing in the media assassination,” Porter said before Moore’s speech. “Those who know him best stand with him the strongest.”
“If the left can try to assassinate the character of Judge Moore, then none of us is safe, the political process is not safe,” she continued.
Alan Keyes of Renew America, who led the prayer before the event, gave a fiery speech defending Moore. He praised Moore for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument he commissioned for the state Supreme Court building, which led to his removal from office in 2003.
“Roy Moore has stood firm and he has not surrendered this nation's core allegiance to the truths that make us free,” Keyes said.
Updated 5:12 p.m.