The Most Obscure GOP Candidate—and How He Could Take Off

You'd be forgiven for not knowing this, but Roy Moore, the "Ten Commandments Judge," is in the midst of a six-day, 25-stop tour of Iowa. Yesterday, he filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee. "For president?!" my editor asked, incredulously, when I mentioned this. And that, in a nutshell, is Roy Moore's problem: nobody much remembers him. He's not getting any media attention, even though the media are so bored that they're lavishing attention on the likes of Donald Trump (ahem, guilty) and Michelle Bachmann. That has to be tough on Moore, since his was one of the great stunt candidacies. After he installed a granite Ten Commandments monument (known as "Roy's Rock") in the Alabama Supreme Court, he was removed from his position as chief justice, became a national celebrity, and appeared to have a good shot at "riding the Rock" all the way to the governor's office and maybe beyond.

But Moore lost that race. And he's sunk into oblivion. Six years ago, at the height of his fame, I profiled him for The Atlantic and traveled around the country with Roy's Rock, which was carried by a five-ton crane truck between Christian festivals all over the South. In a sense, the Rock became a celebrity in its own right. Today, it resides in the CrossPoint Community Church in Moore's hometown of Gadsden, Alabama.

The solution to Roy Moore's problem gaining traction in the GOP presidential field is obvious, isn't it? He should fire up the crane truck, hoist the Rock, and hit the road to Iowa. Can you imagine the reception--and attention--he'd get from the state's sizable social conservative population? What reporter or feature writer could possibly resist that story? At this point, the Rock is probably a bigger celebrity than Moore himself. It's certainly a more powerful political symbol--a Ten Commandments monument removed by court order from a public building is an affront to secularists and a reminder of how hardcore is Moore's social conservatism.

Drop-down image credit: Reuters

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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