The Alabama Republican Party is officially standing by its Senate nominee Roy Moore, closing the door on one of the few options to block him from being elected.
On Wednesday evening, the 21-member state GOP steering committee convened to discuss the Senate race, which has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore. Nine women have accused the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice over the past week of sexual advances, and three have accused him of sexual assault. Most of the women were teenagers at the time and Moore was in his 30s.
“The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race,” said Alabama GOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan in a statement Thursday.
In her statement, Lathan drew a contrast between Moore and Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee and former U.S. attorney.
“There is a sharp policy contrast between Judge Moore, a conservative Republican who supports President Trump, and the liberal Democrat who will fight and thwart the agenda of our president,” Lathan said. “We trust the Alabama voters in this election to have our beloved state and nation’s best interest at heart.”
“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election — not the media or those from afar,” she added.
Watch: Who in Congress Is Pushing Roy Moore to Drop Senate Bid?
The party did have the option of withdrawing Moore as its nominee, so votes for the former judge in the Dec. 12 special election would not be counted. It is still possible for someone to mount a write-in campaign, though Lathan has warned that Republicans who do so would violate party rules and would be barred from running as Republicans for six years.
Moore has denied any wrongdoing since The Washington Post first published a story a week ago with four women alleging misconduct by Moore. At a press conference Thursday, more than a dozen faith leaders vouched for the Senate candidate’s character.
Moore and the speakers refused to take questions from the press about the allegations. But the candidate addressed calls from GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that he step aside as the GOP nominee.
“Many of you have recognized that this is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama,” Moore said. “I’ll tell you who needs to step down. That’s Mitch McConnell.”
President Donald Trump still “firmly” believes that if the allegations against Moore are true, the former judge should step aside, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
Sanders said Trump wants the people of Alabama to decide if Moore should drop out, though she had no clear mechanism for how they would do that. She also said Trump supported the Republican National Committee’s decision to cut ties with the Moore campaign.
John T. Bennett contributed to this report.