The Post editorial: GOP should follow Cory Gardner’s lead in denouncing fellow senator Roy Moore.
For many, what to do about Roy Moore’s Senate prospects is an easy call. But among hardcore conservatives in Moore’s home state of Alabama, in Washington and across the nation, the question is much thornier and riddled with political calculation.
We’re pleased to see Colorado’s junior senator, Cory Gardner, use his prominence among Senate Republicans to present a clear, moral argument against the accused child molester. Those inflamed by the politics of the scandal should consider his wisdom. As head of the Republican’s Senate campaign arm, Gardner announced last week the group would cease fundraising efforts for Moore’s Senate bid and said that if allegations of molestation were true, Moore should drop out of the race. This week Gardner stood with multiple accusers and argued that if Moore refuses to step aside and goes on to win in the special election next month, the Senate should expel him.
Moore, of course, stands defiant against credible claims from a woman who said he drove her to his secluded home when she was 14 — too young in the eyes of the law for a then 32-year-old’s sexual advances — undressed her and touched her sexually. He rejects claims by a woman who says he groped her and tried to force her into sex acts when she was 16. Moore dismisses claims he had a thing for teenage girls and used his power as a prosecutor to cover his tracks. Trump-style, Moore blames the media, Democrats and even the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, saying that they’re the problem.
But The Washington Post reporters who broke the original story (the woman who claims attempted rape came later) were hardly playing politics. They were doing their job as investigative journalists reporting on an impor- tant Senate race. They came across troubling accounts of the now-70-year-old Moore’s behavior with young women and girls when he was in his 30s, and understandably found the accounts worthy of public attention.
Leigh Corfman, the woman who said she was 14 when Moore molested her, documented her claims years ago in conversations with others — including her mother — who confirm her account. Similarly, Beverly Young Nelson’s claim that Moore attempted to sexually assaulted her when she was 16 is backed up by accounts from her sister, mother and husband.
Gardner’s party faces incredible infighting over Moore, and did so before the women came forward. It’s no secret that establishment Republicans are in mortal conflict with the Roy Moores and Stephen Bannons among them.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, even preachers are defending Moore.
Against this political backdrop, there is a legitimate question. If Moore stays in the race and Alabama voters elect him to the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, shouldn’t the will of the voter rein supreme?
We stand with Gardner and other Republican leaders who say those elected to such an important branch of our government must be held to a higher moral and ethical standard. Moore’s accusers paint a credible picture of someone who isn’t of that caliber.
Detractors can ask why President Donald Trump’s campaigntrail accusers didn’t find similar acceptance from Republicans. They should remember Gardner is consistent on this point. After the Access Hollywood tapes surfaced, Gardner stood with those who rejected Trump, and cast his vote for Mike Pence.
Roy Moore is to blame for the situation in which he finds himself. Republicans should follow Gardner’s lead and demand better.