Former White House adviser Steve Bannon returned to Alabama Tuesday night to support GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, and suggested allegations of sexual misconduct were part of a media conspiracy to discredit Moore.
“This whole thing was a setup. This whole thing was weaponized,” Bannon said at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama. “You know that. Folks down here in Alabama know that”
Bannon advanced a theory put forth by the Moore that the allegations, first reported in the Washington Post nearly four weeks ago, were part of conspiracy between the media and Democratic and GOP establishment.
Bannon noted that NBC was in possession of a tape that showed President Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, which was reported by the Washington Post. He pointed out that the Post also reported the Moore allegations.
“No, no, no, there’s no conspiracy,” Bannon said sarcastically. “That’s all just in the national order of things.”
The first Washington Post story detailed four women who said Moore made sexual and romantic advances when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties, one who was 14 at the time. The Washington Post corroborated the allegations with people the women told at the time. Since the first story, five more women have come forward with allegations of misconduct.
Bannon went on to say Moore was a man of “honor and integrity,” having served in the Vietnam War and as a judge. Moore was twice removed from the state Supreme Court for defying federal orders.
In his speech Bannon praised Trump and slammed Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney. All had criticized Moore following the allegations.
Bannon took particular aim at Romney, who tweeted that Moore was “a stain on the GOP and on the nation” on the same day Trump endorsed Moore.
Bannon repeated a 2016 criticism about Romney not serving in Vietnam and for none of Romney’s sons serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Where were the Romneys during those wars? You want to talk about honor and integrity, brother, bring it. Bring it down to Alabama,” Bannon said. “Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in his pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA.”
Bannon did reference Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. He said Jones supported Bill and Hillary Clinton and their “globalist” agenda.
“A vote for Doug Jones is a vote for the Clinton agenda,” Bannon said.
Jones responded on Twitter, saying, “We don’t need an outside agitator like Steve Bannon carpetbagging in Alabama.”
Jones then added, “Come to think of it, Bannon and Roy Moore have something in common. Neither of them can hold down a job.”
Moore spoke after Bannon, touching on points he’s made in recent campaign speeches, including his support for repealing Obamacare, cracking down on illegal immigration, and stopping transgender people from serving in the military and using bathrooms associated with their gender identity.
Moore continued to tie himself to Trump, casting his race as a test for those backing Trump’s agenda.
“We’re going to see if the people of Alabama will support the president and support his agenda in Washington by electing somebody that’s not part of the establishment there,” Moore said.
Moore has had some recent help from GOP groups tied to Trump. Following Trump’s endorsement Monday, the Republican National Committee announced it would be supporting Moore, after initially cutting financial ties with the campaign due to the misconduct allegations.
An RNC official said Tuesday that the national party had transferred $170,000 to the Alabama state Republican Party.
The pro-Trump America First Action PAC, which is run by former Trump campaign aides, has also engaged in the race following Trump’s endorsement and internal polling that showed a close race.
The group made a $1.1 million advertising buy for television, digital and direct mail. The 30-second television ad, which will run in Huntsville and Birmingham through noon on Election Day, highlights Jones’ pro-abortion rights position.
“Our polling has Moore and Jones neck and neck in the days leading up to this important election,” said America First spokeswoman Erin Montgomery. “We stand with the President — and against candidates like Doug Jones who seek to obstruct an America First agenda.”
Moore will face Jones in the Dec. 12 election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-Up.