“We took a path away from God,” said Debbie Giles, as she waited in a large barn outside of Mobile, Alabama, for the former judge to speak. Another supporter, Donna Atkins, said: “We need someone open to bring God back.”
His powerful backer Steve Bannon, took to the stage to claim the most important aspect of Moore’s candidacy was that he was “righteous”. The following night, having defeated the establishment Republican candidate Luther Strange, Moore delivered a victory speech in Montgomery during which he said: “God can still bring us back.”
Six weeks later, Moore is fighting for his political life, following allegations detailed by the Washington Post that Moore had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was aged in his 30s and dated at least three other high school teenagers while he was serving as a local state prosecutor.
Moore has denied the allegations and said the Post’s story is part of a plot hatched with the Democrats. He has vowed to file a lawsuit against the newspaper.
Another accuser came forward on Monday at a press conference, with Beverly Young Nelson alleging Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16. Moore denied the claim and called the allegations a “witch hunt” in a statement shortly before the press conference.
Donald Trump, who had thrown his support behind Moore’s opponent, has been wishy washy in his comments about the former judge. But most mainstream Republicans have been clear - if the allegations are true, he should stand down. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that Moore should step aside.
Strikingly, the people who have not deserted Moore, are the evangelicals who believe he is going to do God’s work for them in Washington DC, the same people who told The Independent it was vital that they “open their heart” to Jesus before leaving the state. The same people who said America had taken a wrong, secular path and that Moore - who earned international headlines when he installed a 5,000lb granite statue bearing the Ten Commandments in the state court compound - would help guide it to the correct one.
Alabama columnist Josh Moon told CNN over the weekend that Moore’s supporters were “not going to believe this Washington Post story because it’s the liberal media lying about their beloved leader here”.
Such anecdotal insights are supported by a survey that found 29 per cent of Alabama voters said the allegations against Moore would make them “more likely” to vote for him. Around 38 per cent said the allegations would make it less likely, while a third of voters said it would not impact their decision whatsoever. A full 58 per cent of people who took part in the JMC Analytics poll, identified themselves as “evangelical Christians”.
What is one to make of this. Are we to assume Alabama’s evangelical Christians are any less disapproving of such actions, than anyone else?
Of course not. But deeply religious and conservative Alabama, is a unique political landscape. Donald Trump easily defeated Hillary Clinton there in last year’s presidential election; indeed, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
As the late George Wallace proved when he led resistance to school integration in the 1960s, Alabamians are deeply resistant to politicians and political influences from outside.
Trump is a recent hero to voters in the state because he ran not as a politician, but as someone who would knock over establishment Washington. For social conservatives, Moore has long been someone they believe will stand up for them and their values.
While much of America looked on horrified when he installed the granite statue in his courthouse and then ordered state officials to ignore a Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage, to his supporters, such issues simply underscored his determination.
Having been told by the likes of Bannon and Trump that the mainstream media is nothing less than the enemy, the majority of Moore’s supporters are simply not going to believe the allegations of abuse. If anything, they will see them as just another challenge for him to overcome.