Republicans want Moore out of race if allegations are true
GOP candidate accused of sexual misconduct
WASHINGTON – Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying he should drop out of the Alabama special election if sexual misconduct allegations against him are true.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, establishing a line that was repeated by an array of his Senate Republican colleagues.
In a Washington Post story published Thursday, a woman said Moore engaged in sexual touching with her when she was a teenager and he was in his 30s in the late 1970s. Three other women told the
Post Moore pursued romantic rela-
tionships with them when they were teens in the same time period.
Moore, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is running against Democrat Doug Jones, a former U. S. attorney, in a special election Dec. 12 for the seat Jeff Sessions gave up to become President Trump’s attorney general.
Moore vehemently denied the charges, calling them “fake news.” His campaign called the allegations “completely false.” “This garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation,” campaign chairman Bill Armistead said.
Moore blamed the story on Democrats, tweeting: “The Obama- Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced! We are are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”
After Democratic election victories in statehouse races in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, attention has focused on the competitive race in Alabama.
Republicans count on a win in the red state, where Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 2- 1 in 2016. Republicans hold a slim 52- 48 majority in the Senate and cannot afford to lose an otherwise safe seat.
Polls have shown Moore holding a narrow lead over Jones.
Moore beat Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill the seat after Sessions’ departure in a Republican primary in September, even though Trump supported Strange.
Moore became a national figure in 2003 when he was removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to follow a federal court order to take down a Ten Command- ments monument from a judicial building.
He was re- elected, then suspended in 2016 for ordering the state’s probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same- sex couples even after the state’s same- sex marriage ban was overturned.
Several senators, including Richard Shelby, the senior Republican senator from Alabama, said last week they supported Moore’s bid. The tone changed Thursday. “If these allegations are true, there is no place for Roy Moore in the United States Senate,” Shelby said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska, said Strange should launch a write- in campaign if the allegations are true. Strange didn’t comment Thursday. Sen. John Thune, R- S. D., said Republicans were looking into steps to replace Moore if the allegations are true.
“The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Some Alabama officials dismissed the allegations. “Even if you accept
The Washington Post’s report as being completely true, it’s much ado about very little,” State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Moore will remain on the ballots. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Thursday ballots have already been printed.
Roy Moore’s campaign calls the accusations “completely false.”