Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court justice and current Republican candidate for Alabama’s special senatorial election next month (who has said on the record that “homosexual conduct should be illegal”), has been accused of decades-ago inappropriate sexual contact by four different women who were as young as 14 when Moore’s actions allegedly took place, according to an explosive report the Washington Post published on Nov. 9.
Moore’s campaign responded with a statement calling the allegations “yet another baseless attack by the Washington Post,” “completely false and a desperate political attack,” and said that “After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now.”
Many Republicans in the Senate responded by calling for Moore to give up his candidacy if the allegations are true. Maine Senator Susan Collins was among the first, announcing on Twitter that “If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Cory Gardner of Colorado, both released statements calling for Moore to step down if the allegations are true.
“The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling,” Gardner’s statement said. “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.” McConnell used almost identical language, telling reporters outside the Senate chamber that “I just recently put out a statement saying if these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside for all the obvious reasons. Very disturbing allegations.”
Arizona Senator John McCain took to Twitter to call for Moore to step down without adding any “if it’s true” qualifiers: “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of,” McCain tweeted shortly after the Post’s story broke.
Utah Senator Mike Lee, who endorsed Moore’s Senate campaign last month with a statement noting Moore’s “reputation of integrity,” responded to the allegations by having a spokesman say “If these allegations are true, Judge Moore should resign.” Utah’s other Senator Orrin Hatch (who has not endorsed Moore), issued a similar statement through his own spokesman, as quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune.
According to Politico reporter Anthony Adragna, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has spoken to Luther Strange (Moore’s defeated opponent in Alabama’s Senate Republican primary election) about running a write-in campaign. Under Alabama law, Moore cannot be dropped from the ballot for next month’s election, because the state requires 76 day’s notice for a candidate to be dropped from the ballot for a statewide election. However, Alabama law does allow voters to write in any name they wish (and requires those write-in votes to be counted).
Not all right-of-center people were so quick to withdraw support from Moore, however. Breitbart.com got wind of the Post’s story before it went public, and pre-emptively responded with an article headlined “After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans to Hit Roy Moore with Allegations of Inappropriate Relations with Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign.”
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler went even further in his defense of Moore than Breitbart, telling the Washington Examiner that “There is nothing to see here … the allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls.” Zeigler also defended Moore by citing Biblical examples of men involved with younger women. “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”