Washington GOP boosts heat on Ala. party on Moore

So close to elec­tion, it’s com­pli­cated, McCon­nell says.

Dayton Daily News - - FROM PAGE ONE - By Alan Fram and Kim­berly Chan­dler

WASHINGTON — Washington Repub­li­cans tight­ened pres­sure Tues­day on Alabama’s GOP to keep a defi- ant Roy Moore from be­ing elected to the Se­nate next month, with many voic­ing hope that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump could use his clout to re­solve a prob­lem that Repub­li­cans say leaves them with no easy op­tions.

With Alabama Repub­li­cans re­luc­tant to block Moore and en­rage his le­gions of loyal con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers, na­tional GOP lead­ers were turn­ing to Trump as their best chance of some- how turn­ing the tide. Two women by name have said Moore mo­lested them in the 1970s when one was 14 and the other 16 and he was a lo­cal dis­trict at­tor­ney, and three oth­ers said he pur­sued ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with them around the same time.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, in all-out war­fare with Moore, said there’d be con­ver­sa­tions about the anti-es­tab­lish­ment fire­brand after Trump re­turns Tues­day night from Asia. He said he’d al­ready spo­ken about Moore to the pres­i­dent, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“He’s ob­vi­ously not fit to be in the United States Sen- ate and we’ve looked at all the op­tions to try to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing,” said McCon­nell, who Mon­day said he be­lieved Moore’s ac­cus- ers. “This close to elec­tion, it’s a com­pli­cated mat­ter.”

Moore has de­nied abus­ing the women but has not ruled out dat­ing teenagers at the time, when he was in his early 30s.

Twice re­moved from his post as state Supreme Court chief Jus­tice, Moore’s candi- dacy in the Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion con­fronts Repub- li­cans with two dam­ag­ing po­ten­tial out­comes. A vic­tory sad­dles GOP sen­a­tors with a col­league ac­cused of abus- ing and ha­rass­ing teenagers, a trou­bling li­a­bil­ity head­ing into next year’s con­gres­sio- nal elec­tions, while an up­set vic­tory by Demo­crat Doug Jones would slice the al­ready nar­row GOP Se­nate ma­jor­ity to an un­wieldy 51-49.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions told Congress he has “no rea­son to doubt” the women. Ses­sions, a for­mer Alabama se­na­tor and still one of the GOP’s most in­fluen- tial voices in the state, didn’t rule out a Jus­tice Depart­ment probe of the al­lega- tions, telling the House Judi- ciary Com­mit­tee, “We will eval­u­ate ev­ery case as to whether or not it should be in­ves­ti­gated.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan joined the pile of con­gres- sional Repub­li­cans say­ing Moore should drop out.

“Th­ese al­le­ga­tions are cred­i­ble,” Ryan, R-Wis., told re­porters. “If he cares about the val­ues and peo­ple he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”

Two Washington Repub­li­cans, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, said they didn’t know what Trump would do, but said the White House shares McCon­nell’s con­cerns about Moore.

At a fo­rum Tues­day or­ga­nized by The Wall Street Jour­nal, McCon­nell said Trump is dis­cussing what to do in the Alabama race “in great de­tail.”

With a po­lit­i­cal brand as an un­re­pen­tant out­sider, Moore has sig­naled no in­ten­tion of drop­ping out. Un­der­scor­ing his de­fi­ance, he tweeted Tues­day, “Alabami­ans will not be fooled by this #In­sid­eHitJob. Mitch McCon­nell’s days as Ma­jor­ity Leader are com­ing to an end very soon. The fight has just be­gun.”

De­spite the build­ing pres­sure from na­tional Repub­li­cans, state GOP of­fice hold­ers have taken a mea­sured re­sponse or avoided com­ment­ing on the ac­cu­sa­tions against Moore.

It’s al­ready too late to re­move his name from the bal­lot. That leaves the state party with lim­ited op­tions.

The 21-mem­ber party steer­ing com­mit­tee could vote to re­voke Moore’s GOP nom­i­na­tion and ask elec­tion of­fi­cials to ig­nore bal­lots cast for him Elec­tion Day, but that would risk a law­suit and back­lash from Moore sup­port­ers. The party has lit­tle in­ter­est in alien­at­ing Moore’s fol­low­ers a year be­fore elec­tions in which the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and en­tire state leg­is­la­ture will be in play, but it re­mains pos­si­ble.

U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore re­mains de­fi­ant in the face of al­le­ga­tions he had in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ships with teenage girls in his 30s.

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