Jim DeMint made a name for himself by helping elect firebrand conservatives. Now he’s sticking with his most controversial endorsee yet, Alabama Republican Roy Moore—even while expressing concern over the extensive allegations of sexual harassment that have piled up against the candidate.
The former South Carolina Senator and Heritage Foundation president told The Daily Beast in a statement that, for the time being, he stood by his endorsement of Moore, who has been accused of assaulting two women in the 1970s—one of whom was just 14 at the time—propositioning three other teens, and being banned from a local shopping mall over reportedly routine harassment.
“These are very serious allegations that should cause him to step aside if they are true,” DeMint said in a statement on Tuesday. “But he is strongly denying them and the decision will ultimately be up to the people of Alabama.”
DeMint is one of the few remaining national Republican figures to not drop Moore. Virtually all of his former colleagues in the Senate have called for Moore to drop out of the race or have threatened to vote for his expulsion should he win. The lone exception has been Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) encouraged current Attorney General Jeff Sessions to consider a write in candidacy for the seat (which Sessions used to hold). But doing so risks bifurcating the Republican vote in the state and handing the election to Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones.
Moore has pledged to continue campaigning even as the accusations against him have piled up. The election is set to be held on December 12.
DeMint’s backing could be crucial for Moore if he is elected and faces expulsion proceedings. After his unceremonious ouster from Heritage, DeMint founded a new nonprofit group, the Conservative Partnership, that advises members of Congress and their staff on procedural matters. Facing arcane matters surrounding potential Moore expulsion, members might look to DeMint’s group for guidance on proceedings that have only been used 15 times in Senate history.