GOP turns up heat on Moore
WASHINGTON – The chorus of national Republican leaders speaking out against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after allegations of sexual misconduct grew louder Tuesday, with House Speaker Paul Ryan joining the effort to oust him and Attorney General Jeff Sessions voicing confidence in Moore’s accusers.
Even Sean Hannity at Fox News expressed doubts. Hannity said Tuesday that, in light of inconsistencies in Moore’s recollection of the sexual misconduct allegations, the former judge should be given 24 hours to fully explain the situations or bow out of the Senate race.
But this growing criticism has yet to sweep over key Republicans in Alabama.
The sharply contrasting reactions coming out of Washington and Alabama underscore the challenge Republican leaders face as they try to force Moore out of the race and enlist a candidate who can defeat his Democratic foe, Doug Jones. The division only appears to be hardening Moore’s resolve.
“The good people of Alabama, not the Washington elite who wallow in the swamp, will decide this election! DitchMitch,” Moore tweeted, making a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Tuesday again called on him to drop out.
GOP officials in Alabama continued to express skepticism about the accusations, saying that they are still waiting for the evidence to back up the allegations.
“As of today, with the information that’s been introduced to me, and if these charges are not proven to be true, then I would continue to support and vote for Judge Moore,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill in an interview with CNN.
Others in the state said that there is little that can be done, as the Dec. 12 election to fill the seat vacated by Sessions earlier this year approaches.
“I don’t see anything the party can do,” said Alabama state Rep. Mike Ball, a Republican from Madison County. “It’s too damn late.”
Party officials in Washington this week have ramped up efforts to get Moore to drop out, in hopes that a write-in candidate can save the seat for Republicans.
“He should step aside,” Ryan said at the Capitol. “Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values and people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”
The Republican National Committee on Tuesday pulled out of a joint fundraising committee with Moore’s campaign. The decision by the national party follows a similar move Friday by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which ended its financial relationship with Moore. Now, the Alabama Republican Party is the only other GOP entity that is participating in Moore’s fundraising efforts.
On Tuesday night, a defiant Moore spoke in Jackson, a small city in rural south Alabama, before a supportive church audience. “Obviously I’ve made a few people mad,” he said.
At one point, Moore suggested that he might lose the election. “I want to take the truth of God to Washington,” he said. “If it’s not God’s will, then I pray I don’t be put in that position, if that’s what he wants.” But Moore never suggested that he would drop out.
McConnell said Tuesday that he spoke with President Donald Trump by phone Friday to discuss Moore’s campaign. Trump has been relatively quiet on Moore.