GOP turns up heat on Moore

Star Tribune - - NATION & WORLD - By SEAN SUL­LI­VAN and PAUL KANE • Wash­ing­ton Post

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.

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