How the Alabama GOP reacted to sexual misconduct allegations against the Senate candidate.

Republican senators have called for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore to “step aside” amid accusations that he pursued a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 — if, many qualified, those allegations are true.

But some prominent leaders in Moore’s home state of Alabama, where the former judge is very popular with the evangelical Christian base, have attempted to defend him — or been noticeably silent on the Washington Post’s bombshell story.

Moore supporters who did speak out dismissed the allegations as a Democratic plot or smear campaign, and questioned the timing of the report weeks ahead of the special election. Others downplayed the severity of the allegations, with Alabama state auditor Jim Zeigler calling them “much ado about very little.” Zeigler also attempted to rely on the Bible to muster a justification for Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Leigh Corfman, now 53, told the Post that Moore pursued her as a 14-year-old when he was working as a district attorney; she said he kissed her on one occasion and touched her over her bra and underwear on another. Three other women say Moore, in his early 30s, flirted with and tried to ask them out as teenagers, though they were apparently over 16 at the time, the legal age of consent in Alabama. Moore himself has denied the allegations a “completely false and desperate attack.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said in a statement, “If that’s true, I don’t believe there’d be any place for him in the United States Senate.” And other high-profile Alabama politicians also distanced themselves from Moore, though almost all included the “if the allegations are true” caveat.

But others tried a different tack.

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