“The fight has just begun”: Moore reportedly telling aides he intends to finish the race

Why wouldn’t he? He’s 70, he’s been trying for years to win political office, and he’ll never have a better chance than he does now notwithstanding the allegations against him. This is a guy who twice — twice — forced his political opponents to remove him from the bench for refusing to follow a higher court’s orders rather than resign or submit. If he quits under pressure, it’ll betray his populist image as a fighter willing to stand up to Washington even on, uh, credible allegations that he assaulted a teenaged girl. Worse, it’ll be treated by some as an admission that the allegations are true, which would destroy Moore’s claim to being a beacon of Christian rectitude.

What would be left of the man without that?

So yeah, he’s in it to win it.

A not implausible scenario: Moore presses on, with the media landing no further major hits on him a la yesterday’s Beverly Nelson press conference. His polls dive, but everyone temporarily loses interest over the Thanksgiving holiday. When Alabamans tune back in the week after, there’s Moore on the stump, defiant as ever, letting Mitch McConnell and the Beltway phonies have it. People begin to forget the details of the allegations; it’s “only” five women, after all, far fewer than accused Trump. They could have been making it up, couldn’t they? HIs numbers begin to recover. Fencesitting Republicans admire his resolve in refusing to be pushed out of the race and reluctantly come home to him on Election Day. He wins and suddenly McConnell’s on the spot in trying to find 67 votes to expel Moore from the chamber. He finds 60 easily, but beyond that votes start to become scarce as Senate Republicans shy away from antagonizing populists after another big win. Trump, also gun-shy after Luther Strange’s defeat in the primary runoff, decides not to alienate his base further and declares that Moore should be seated because “the people have spoken.” The expulsion effort in the Senate collapses and Senator Moore is sworn in. I’d give that scenario at least a one in three chance of happening.

The problem is, there’s likely a two in three chance of other accusers surfacing before Election Day to remind voters of how serious this is.

Still, the longer Moore presses on and proves he’s a “fighter,” the stickier things are going to get for Trump and Steve Bannon, his populist fellow travelers. The Daily Beast reports today that Bannon is staring to waver, understandably, in light of the charges against Moore. But Bannon can’t afford to pull the plug on his support; if Moore fights on and wins it’ll be a double humiliation for Bannon, proof that Moore (and populism) never needed him to succeed and that Bannon doesn’t have nearly as much stomach for #WAR as Moore himself has. Bannon may think that Moore’s locked in here with him but really Bannon’s locked in here with Moore. There’s nowhere to go:

But over the past few days, Bannon has begun privately taking the temperature of those in his inner circle to see what they think of the Moore allegations and to get their sense of how to proceed, according to four knowledgeable sources. Late last week, the Breitbart chairman said, “I will put him in a grave myself,” if he determines that Moore was lying to him about the numerous accusations, a source close to Bannon relayed…

Several of Bannon’s most trusted allies have already told him that it would be “insane,” as one put it, to believe at this point that the Moore accusations are baseless. They have also warned that the time is rapidly approaching when he would have to disavow Moore before it appeared as though he was simply caving to political pressure.

McConnell, who called on Moore again this afternoon to drop out, says he spoke to Trump already about him and will be having “further discussions” with the president, which kind of sounds like Trump is reluctant to shove Moore towards the exit. Makes sense, as Trump doesn’t want to cross Alabama populists again by opposing Moore and probably has Bannon whispering in his ear on the phone to stick by him — for now. Trump has the same problem Bannon does, except more so. If he calls on Moore to drop out and Moore defies him and wins, Moore will have once again out-Trumped Trump in a red state that the president’s supposed to own. How can Trump risk that by walking away from him, particularly over unproved charges of sexual misconduct given Trump’s own history last fall?

Meanwhile, the latest from Alabama:

At least one person in our viewing area received a robocall seeking more damaging information about Roy Moore. Here is the text of that voicemail message received by Pastor Al Moore in Creola.

“Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein, I’m a reporter for the Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5000 and $7000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at [email protected], thank you.”

“Bernie Bernstein,” huh? Needless to say, there’s no one by that name at WaPo. Seth Mandel wonders why the person behind the robocall didn’t go full anti-semite and call the reporter “Shylock Goldsteal” instead.

In lieu of an exit question, go read this enjoyable yet unfortunate Daily Beast piece about a similar claim published a few days ago on Twitter. A man tweeted that a woman his wife knows had been offered $1,000 by the Washington Post to lie about Moore. I say “unfortunate” because it was painfully obvious that the guy had no credibility and yet his allegation was duly relayed on some right-wing blogs desperate to discredit Moore’s accusers. One telltale sign that he was trolling was the way he wrote the figure: “1000$” rather than “$1000.” I’ve never seen an American put the dollar sign after the amount when writing a monetary figure; many foreign nations do, though, including, I believe, Russia. The Daily Beast has compiled a long list of contradictory information that the same account tweeted over the years before it suddenly and mysteriously vanished. It’s understandable at a moment when accusations about sexual misconduct without hard proof are flying around in the media to seize on one that’s exculpatory, but it’s just one — from a rando on social media, who couldn’t keep his own biography straight. How did this claim catch on in the first place?

This post originally appeared on Hot Air

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