GOP push­ing Trump to re­solve Moore is­sue

Senate can­di­date de­fi­ant, declar­ing ‘On to vic­tory!’

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Fram and Kim­berly Chan­dler

Roy Moore’s Senate can­di­dacy amid sex scan­dal con­fronts Repub­li­cans with two dam­ag­ing po­ten­tial out­comes.

WASH­ING­TON — Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans tight­ened pres­sure Tues­day on Alabama’s GOP to keep a de­fi­ant 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 some­how 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 in his 30s, and three oth­ers said he pur­sued ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with them around the same time.

Senate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell said there would be con­ver­sa­tions about the anti-estab­lish­ment fire­brand after Trump re­turns 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 Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to try to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing,” said McCon­nell, who Mon­day said he be­lieved Moore’s ac­cusers. “This close to elec­tion, it’s a com­pli­cated mat­ter.”

In an email that re­minded vot­ers of their loy­alty to him, Moore again de­nied abus­ing the women.

“He’s the same man you’ve al­ways known him to be,” the email said. It added, “On to vic­tory!”

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

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions told Congress he has “no rea­son to doubt” the women. Ses­sions, a for­mer Alabama sen­a­tor, didn’t rule out a Jus­tice Depart­ment probe of the al­le­ga­tions, telling the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, “We will eval­u­ate ev­ery case as to whether or not it should be in­ves­ti­gated.”

The na­tional Repub­li­can Party ended a fundrais­ing ar­range­ment with Moore’s cam­paign, Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion doc­u­ments showed. And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined other Repub­li­cans say­ing Moore should drop out, say­ing, “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 .

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.”

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.

A spokesman for GOP Gov. Kay Ivey re­it­er­ated that she would not post­pone the elec­tion to give Moore’s op­po­nents more time to or­ga­nize.

Also pos­si­ble is a writein cam­paign, but Repub­li­cans con­sider that a long­shot to suc­ceed. Alabama Sec­re­tary of State John Mer­rill said no write-in can­di­date has ever won a statewide elec­tion.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

Sen. Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., says he al­ready has spo­ken with the pres­i­dent about Senate can­di­date Roy Moore.

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