The Post edi­to­rial: GOP should fol­low Cory Gard­ner’s lead in de­nounc­ing fel­low sen­a­tor Roy Moore.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

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.

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