Conservative allies of Roy Moore said the Alabama Senate candidate became the victim of "smear tactics" Thursday, after several women claimed that Moore pursued them romantically when he was in his early 30s and they were between the ages of 14 to 18.
The bombshell allegations were published by the Washington Post minutes after Moore's campaign issued a preemptive denial to Breitbart News, which described the forthcoming story as "intentional defamation."
Four women, each of whom spoke to the Post on the record about their encounters with Moore, said the former judge took them on dates and invited them to his home when he was nearly twice their age. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said Moore took her to his residence when she was 14 years old and initiated sexual contact.
Corfman said he stopped short of having intercourse with her after she requested to be driven home, and he obliged.
The other women claim they were pursued by Moore when they were teenagers and he was serving as a local judge.
Moore, who defeated incumbent Alabama Sen. Luther Strange in the state's September GOP primary, rejected the accusations in a statement to the Post.
"These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign," he said.
Sources close to Moore, who spoke to the Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity, said the head-turning allegations were reminiscent of the "Access Hollywood" tape that was released one month before last year's presidential election and led to a flurry of sexual assault allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump.
"The whole thing smells like an act of desperation. It's just classic smear tactics," said a former Trump campaign aide, who remains a supporter of Moore. "It's just too suspicious – the timing, the packaging."
The source continued, "I've met the guy and I find him very sincere. He has that common-man touch that the president has as well, so I think that's what the left is most afraid of."
At least three people closely aligned with Moore's campaign said they plan to stand by the candidate unless further information emerges to corroborate the allegations published Thursday. Each declined to specify what sort of evidence might meet their standards of proof, since the alleged misconduct occurred well outside Alabama's statute of limitations.
Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, who joined Moore at a campaign rally on the eve of the Alabama primary, said in a series of tweets it was "sickening" that people "would try to smear Judge Roy Moore."
"No question about it," Nehlen spokesman Noel Fritsch told the Washington Examiner, when asked if the Wisconsinite still supports Moore.
Chris McDaniel, a conservative Mississippi politician who is rumored to be considering a run against incumbent GOP Sen. Roger Wicker, did not respond to a request for comment. McDaniel also attended Moore's star-studded primary rally on Sept. 26, which included cameos from former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The steadfast support from Moore's allies stood in stark contrast with statements issued by Republicans on Capitol Hill.