Let's start with some fresh polling. The numbers are, well, not good across the board for Moore, especially the two-to-one split among GOP voters in favor of him getting out of the race. But is any of that particularly surprising? Every potential future upper chamber colleague who'd endorsed the guy has now rescinded those blessings, with both Senators from Texas being the latest ones to walk away; the guy overseeing the national project to elect Republican Senators is openly talking about expulsion of Moore wins, for crying out loud. It's getting mighty ugly out there. Pro-Moore holdouts will surely point out that this is a national poll, so the mood in Alabama could be significantly different. But as Ed Morrissey notes, the survey's cross tabs suggest that Southerners aren't feeling appreciably more forgiving of Moore than any other region of the country:
It’s a national poll, but the results in the South aren’t much different than the overall results. Sixty percent find the Post’s reporting credible overall, with 57% of those in the South agreeing. The same 60% percent of respondents say Moore should withdraw, and the same 57% of Southern voters concur. There are differences in partisan responses, but as noted, Republicans choose withdrawal over remaining in the race by a 2:1 margin, 50/26. Indies, usually a good control group for partisanship, have at 56/14. There’s a small shift toward Moore from Republican respondents, but not much — and that’s probably gone after Beverly Young Nelson’s presser yesterday, accusing Moore of sexual assault.
Yep, that last sentence does in fact mean that this Morning Consult/Politico poll was taken entirely before a fifth woman emerged to accuse Moore of misconduct, becoming the second alleged victim to say his actions crossed the line from creepy to criminal. As we mentioned last night, Moore is denying everything about the latest accuser's story, insisting that he doesn't know her at all, and doesn't even know anything about the restaurant that's central to her allegations. Either she's concocted an elaborate lie, or he's embarking on a desperate and risky strategy. After all, anyone stepping forward to confirm that he was a repeat patron of that restaurant blows his full denial out of the water. Oh, and don't forget that she has that decades-old, flirty inscription from him in her high school yearbook, complete with a signature that looks pretty darned familiar. Is he going with the forgery defense? (I've seen some conspiracies along these lines floating around). If so, is the idea that she forged it back then, in anticipation of some future set-up, or was the note scrawled just recently and cleverly disguised to appear old? Raise your hand if still you're willing to believe Moore's indignant, flailing 'who, me?' routine in light of even more reports that he was apparently notorious around town for harassing high school girls as a thirty-something:
Roy Moore is still totally normal though, guys pic.twitter.com/rMzu5sGjVZ— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) November 13, 2017
Two of the women say that they first met Moore at the Gadsden Mall, and the Post reports that several other women who used to work there remembered Moore’s frequent presence—“usually alone” and “well-dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt.” This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. Legat says that he saw Moore there a few times, even though his understanding then was that he had already been banned. “It started around 1979, I think,” Legat said. “I know the ban was still in place when I got there.” Legat recalled a Gadsden police officer named J. D. Thomas, now retired, who worked security at the mall. “J. D. was a fixture there, when I was working at the store,” Legat said. “He really looked after the kids there. He was a good guy. J. D. told me, ‘If you see Roy, let me know. He’s banned from the mall.’ ” Legat recalled Thomas telling him, “If you see Moore here, tell me. I’ll take care of him.’"
...Two officers I spoke to this weekend, both of whom asked to remain unnamed, told me that they have long heard stories about Moore and the mall. “The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said. The legal age of consent in Alabama is sixteen, so it would not be illegal there for a man in his early thirties to date a girl who was, say, a senior in high school. But these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore’s presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. “I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he’d been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off,” one officer told me. He also said, “I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone.” The second officer went further. “A friend of mine told me he was banned from there,” he said. He added, “I actually voted for Moore. I liked him at one time. But I’m basically disgusted now, to be honest with you. Some of the things he’s said recently, I’ve changed my tune completely about this guy.”
Feeling queasy yet? Remember, Moore claims he never met either of the two women who say he molested or assaulted them as teens, but he couldn't quite bring himself to say that he didn't date high schoolers when he was a grown man and a district attorney. That equivocation, both in public and in private, is what reportedly cost him one of his handful of Senate endorsements last week. If you're not interested in believing the New Yorker's unnamed-source-heavy reporting on Moore (did you believe them about Harvey Weinstein?), what about a local press account, filled with on-the-record quotes?
Yeah, good luck defending Roy Moore after reading this exhaustive local news report w/ on-record anecdoteshttps://t.co/Pi9g9ea9dC— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) November 14, 2017
"These stories have been going around this town for 30 years," said Blake Usry, who grew up in the area and lives in Gadsden. "Nobody could believe they hadn't come out yet." Usry, a traveling nurse, said he knew several of the girls that Moore tried to flirt with. "It's not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore," he said. "That's why it's sort of frustrating to watch" the public disbelieve the women who have come forward, he said...Five other current and former Etowah County residents also spoke to AL.com with similar accounts. "Him liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school," said Sheryl Porter. "In our neighborhoods up by Noccalula Falls we heard it all the time. Even people at the courthouse know it was a well-known secret. "It's just sad how these girls (who accused Moore) are getting hammered and called liars, especially Leigh (Corfman)."...Tony Hathcock is a photographer in Gadsden who told CBS News that he's known Corfman well for five years and believes her. They are both very conservative Republican voters, he said, and both voted for Trump. He said she had nothing to gain from speaking out, but felt safe speaking out now because her children are now adults.
There are more anecdotes in that story, too. I'll leave you with this: "The 21 members of Alabama’s Republican Party central steering committee are the only ones who can pull Roy Moore’s nomination and potentially block his path to the Senate. After days of mounting allegations that their Senate nominee had sexual contact with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, two Alabama GOP sources tell TPM they’ve finally decided to hold a meeting later this week to hash out whether they can stand by his side," according to TPM. "Under state law, it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot or replace him with another candidate. If his nomination is withdrawn but he still gets the most votes in the Dec. 12 election against Democratic nominee Doug Jones, it’s unclear what happens. Some interpret the law as saying the election would be null and void and the governor would need to call a new one, while others say the second-place finisher would be declared the winner, whether that’s Jones or a write-in. Lawsuits would be likely." Stay tuned. By the way, here's at least one notably influential Alabaman who appears to be cutting Moore loose:
Jeff Sessions on Roy Moore's accusers: "I have no reason to doubt these young women."— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) November 14, 2017