MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama's Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women in particular.
"He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama," Kayla Moore said at a "Women for Moore" rally. Acting as her husband's lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. "To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are," Moore said.
Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however, and certainly not all women.
"I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don't know that I can vote for him anymore," said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.
One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
"I have not found any reason not to believe them. . . . They risked a whole lot to come forward," Payne said of the accusers.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.
"We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions," Ivey said.
Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party's brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.
The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.
The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election.
A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.