Starkville Daily News - - FO­RUM -

sen­sa­tional ac­cu­sa­tion in the story.

She said Moore was a reg­u­lar cus­tomer at the restau­rant where she worked af­ter school in Gads­den, Alabama.

One night when she was 16, Moore of­fered to drive her home, she said, but in­stead parked be­hind the restau­rant and touched her breasts and locked the door to keep her in­side. She said he squeezed her neck while try­ing to push her head toward his crotch and tried to pull her shirt off.

“I thought that he was go­ing to rape me,” she said.

Moore fi­nally stopped and as she got out of the car, he warned that no one would be­lieve her be­cause he was a county prose­cu­tor, Nel­son said. She said her neck was “black and blue and pur­ple” the next morn­ing and she im­me­di­ately quit her job.

Nel­son said that shortly be­fore that, days be­fore Christ­mas, she’d brought her high school year­book to the

restau­rant and Moore signed it. A copy of her state­ment dis­trib­uted at the news con­fer­ence in­cluded a pic­ture of what she said was his sig­na­ture and a mes­sage say­ing, “To a sweeter more beau­ti­ful girl I could not say, ‘Merry Christ­mas.’”

Nel­son said she told her younger sis­ter about the in­ci­dent two years later, told her mother four years ago and told her hus­band be­fore they mar­ried. She said she and her hus­band sup­ported Don­ald Trump for pres­i­dent.

Last Thurs­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported that in 1979 when he was 32, Moore had sex­ual con­tact with a 14-year-old girl and pur­sued ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with three other teenage girls around the same pe­riod. The women made their al­le­ga­tions on the record and the Post cited two dozen other sources.

Moore has called the al­le­ga­tions “com­pletely false and mis­lead­ing,” but in an in­ter­view last week he did not un­equiv­o­cally rule out

dat­ing teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Asked by con­ser­va­tive ra­dio host Sean Han­nity if that would have been usual for him, Moore said, “It would have been out of my cus­tom­ary be­hav­ior.”

McConnell, speak­ing Mon­day at an event in Louisville, Ken­tucky, said Moore “should step aside” and ac­knowl­edged that a write-in ef­fort by an­other can­di­date was pos­si­ble. He said, “We’ll see,” when asked if the Re­pub­li­can al­ter­na­tive could be Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore ousted in a Sep­tem­ber party pri­mary.

But Strange told re­porters late Mon­day “a write-in can­di­dacy is highly un­likely.”

“I made my case dur­ing the elec­tion,” Strange said. “So now, it’s re­ally go­ing to be up to the peo­ple of our state to sort this out.”

McConnell’s com­ment pushed him fur­ther than he’d gone last Thurs­day, when he said Moore should exit the race if the al­le­ga­tions were true.

McConnell and Moore

have had an openly an­tag­o­nis­tic his­tory. Moore was backed dur­ing his pri­mary cam­paign by Steve Ban­non, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer chief White House ad­viser who is openly seek­ing GOP Se­nate chal­lengers who will pledge to dump McConnell. A po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee linked to McConnell spent heav­ily but un­suc­cess­fully on Strange’s be­half.

Trump, who is trav­el­ing in Asia, has told peo­ple he wanted to wait to get back to Wash­ing­ton un­til he weighed in, ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial who would not be named dis­cussing pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions. Trump is slated to re­turn late Tues­day.

Ban­non did not re­spond to a ques­tion Mon­day night about whether he still sup­ported Moore.

The tu­mult comes with Repub­li­cans hold­ing a scant 52-48 Se­nate ma­jor­ity as the GOP rushes to push a mas­sive tax cut through Congress by Christ­mas. Fac­ing near-cer­tain unan­i­mous op­po­si­tion by Democrats, Repub­li­cans

can lose just two GOP sen­a­tors, and a Demo­cratic pickup in Alabama would nar­row their mar­gin of er­ror to just one.

On the other hand, a Moore vic­tory would open the party to re­lent­less Demo­cratic at­tacks in next year’s midterm elec­tions, when Repub­li­cans will be de­fend­ing their House and Se­nate ma­jori­ties.

No. 2 Se­nate GOP leader John Cornyn and his Texas Re­pub­li­can col­league, Sen. Ted Cruz, both with­drew their en­dorse­ments of Moore. Nu­mer­ous oth­ers said he should exit the race.

“He should not be a United States sen­a­tor, no mat­ter what it takes,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. And Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who’s not seek­ing re-elec­tion af­ter crit­i­ciz­ing Trump, said he’d “vote for the Demo­crat” if he were an Alaba­man and had to choose be­tween Moore and Demo­crat Doug Jones.

By Mon­day af­ter­noon, Moore was show­ing no signs of fold­ing.

He as­sured sup­port­ers Sun­day night at a Huntsville, Alabama, gym that the Post ar­ti­cle was “fake news” and “a des­per­ate at­tempt to stop my po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.”

He said al­le­ga­tions that he was in­volved with a mi­nor are “un­true” and the news­pa­per “will be sued.” The for­mer judge also ques­tioned why such al­le­ga­tions would be leveled for the first time so close to the spe­cial elec­tion in spite of his decades in public life.

Democrats in Wash­ing­ton seemed con­tent to keep their dis­tance from their Jones.

“If they ask us for things, we’re go­ing to try to help them, but it’s an Alabama race, and the Jones cam­paign is run­ning it on its own,” said Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

The Jones cam­paign re­leased a state­ment Mon­day say­ing: “We ap­plaud the courage of th­ese women. Roy Moore will be held ac­count­able by the peo­ple of Alabama for his ac­tions.”

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