Judge Roy Moore took a few minutes during a Veterans Day speech he gave in Birmingham, Alabama, to claim victimhood and dismiss allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl.
The speech Saturday was Moore’s first public appearance since a scathing report by The Washington Post alleged that in 1979, when he was a 32-year-old prosecutor, he took the girl to his house, gave her booze and forced her to touch him inappropriately.
“I am not guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone,” Moore said Saturday after honoring various military veterans in the audience. “I have the highest regard for protection of young women ... I have not provided alcoholic beverages, beer, or anything else to a minor.”
He then doubled down on the implication that the report was a political move to ruin his race for Alabama senator. A special election for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, takes place Dec. 12.
“Why now?” he said, calling the accusations “hurtful to me personally.”
To be sure, the allegations will have an impact on his campaign, as some of his few supporters ― and we mean few ― are beginning to jump ship. Two GOP senators pulled their endorsements on Friday evening, while plenty more called on him to withdraw from the race.
But Moore didn’t need horrifying allegations like these to ruin his Senate bid ― he’s always been good at hurting his own reputation. He’s said publicly that homosexuality should be illegal, that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress, and that the Sept. 11 terror attacks were punishment for the United States’ godlessness. He was removed, twice, from his state Supreme Court position for disobeying federal law.
And speaking to reporters about whether he pursued teenage girls during his 30s, he said, “Not generally, no.”
The Alabama GOP fears that Moore is going to lose his race against Democrat Doug Jones. One of Moore’s most stringent supporters, Bibb County Republican Chairman Jerry Pow, said he’d vote for him even if the allegations were proven true.
Much of the rest of the country, meanwhile, appears to be waiting for him to leave the race before he further tarnishes his party’s reputation. Outside his speech on Saturday, protesters were heard chanting, “No Moore.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.