SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — A generational divide has emerged among Republican women in Alabama over Roy Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate — pitting pro-Moore baby boomers against millennials who fear his candidacy is staining a party they are poised to take over.
A week out of from the election, the race in Alabama has, in many ways, boiled down to a referendum on whether voters believe the accusations leveled against Mr. Moore from women who say he engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Frances Taylor, the head of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, sought to assure voters at a rally this week that after fighting in political trenches with Mr. Moore for decades, women have his back.
“We are behind him 100 percent,” Mrs. Taylor said. “We want you to take that message out there that the women of Alabama are behind him and support him.”
Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, also has stuck with Mr. Moore. She said she has no reason to disbelieve the accusations but that too much is at stake to allow Democrat Doug Jones to win the seat.
Younger voters, though, worry that the short-term gain of electing Mr. Moore to the Senate on Tuesday could have long-term consequences for the party that they will have to remedy.
“There absolutely is a generational divide,” said 25-year-old Leigh Hall.
Mrs. Hall said younger Republican voters tend to be more progressive on social issues such as same-sex marriage and were never jazzed about Mr. Moore’s candidacy. The sexual misconduct accusations further diminish his standing, she said.
“Yes, I believe the allegations because my first instinct is to believe a woman who comes forward,” Mrs. Hall said.
Mrs. Hall said the generational divide was reflected in the fact that the Young Republican Federation of Alabama suspended its support for Mr. Moore while the Alabama Republican Party stuck with him.
“To me and other millennials, we are looking at long-term goals,” she said. “Is that someone we want to have represent our party, and is it worth having the majority? To me, it is not worth it.”
Mr. Jones has tried to capitalize on the pushback against Mr. Moore by touting the lead role he played as a U.S. attorney in successfully prosecuting some of the Ku Klux Klan members who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four black girls.
“I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate,” Mr. Jones said this week.
The claims against Mr. Moore have been part of a wave of sexual misconduct accusations that have shaken up the media, Hollywood and Capitol Hill, sparking the firing NBC’s Matt Lauer and the resignation this week of Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.
Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota is facing mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to step down, and others, including Rep. Blake Farenthold, Texas Republican, are facing renewed questions about their past behavior.
On Wednesday, Mr. Jones said it is a good thing women are sharing their stories.
“‘I applaud the women who have come forward against Roy Moore. And I think it’s time that those women be believed, just like the women who are coming out against Senator Franken, Representative (John) Conyers and others,” Mr. Jones said.
To the delight of Mr. Moore’s supporters, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has refused calls for him to exit the race. He called the charges against him a scheme by the elites in both parties to keep him out of Washington.
Many women agree, saying the evidence against Mr. Moore has been lacking.
Beverly Bailey, 66, said she knows with “all my heart” that Mr. Moore is a “good Christian man” and that when she and the 70-year-old Mr. Moore were coming of age, it was not uncommon for older men to court much younger women.
“When I was in high school, there were girls 15 or 16 years old that their parents were signing for them to get married,” said Mrs. Bailey, a mother of five. “It was more of a, you know, they didn’t look at 15- and 16-year-old girls as being immature because in that day they were very mature. They had lived a life of working hard, and parents wanted their daughters to marry upstanding people, and it was sort of an arranged thing, to tell you the truth in America at that time.”
The accusations “were a lie from the start,” said 78-year-old Eana Miles. She said she has known Mr. Moore and his wife, Kayla, for years and vouched that Mr. Moore “loves God” — so “if he did it, he’d admit it.”
“They don’t want Roy Moore in this election to win because he is against abortion, he is against same-sex marriage, he’s against anything that is unbiblical,” Mrs. Miles said, adding that Mr. Moore’s opponents want to unleash a torrent of immorality.
“They want it where everyone has to go to one toilet. They kill little unborn babies. They want to sex up to anybody they want to,” she said. “They are taking our country completely to Satan.”
Kaye Langley, 61, said in general she has a hard time believing women when they come out with accusations against men.
“They bring it on themselves. It is the way they dress,” Mrs. Langley said. “If they were a little bit more conservative, none of that stuff [would happen], but when they dress and act like they do, they’re asking for it, and that is just my opinion.”
She added, “All these women that are accusing [Mr. Moore], I don’t believe a single one of them.”
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.