(WASHINGTON) — A small but growing number of Republican senators are calling for Roy Moore to drop out the Alabama Senate race, but so far Moore is defiant, insisting he will continue to run.
ABC News has reached out to all 52 Republican senators for reaction. Ten of them are calling for Moore to withdraw from the race. Nine have withheld comment. A majority have qualified their remarks by saying if the allegations are true, Moore should step aside.
There’s not one single Republican senator who is publicly calling for Moore to stay in the Alabama special election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday he believes the account of the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.
The Republican Senate leader’s comments mark a change from a few days ago when he said in a statement, “If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”
Moore, a staunch conservative who gained notoriety as an Alabama Supreme Court judge for putting a monument of the Ten Commandments in a state judiciary building, faces allegations first reported by The Washington Post that he engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old when he was 32 and pursued other girls when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was single and in his 30s.
He has strongly denied the allegations.
Because there is no way to remove his name from the ballot, Republicans in the Senate face the dilemma of pulling their support and increasing the chances that a Democrat could take the pivotal seat. Here’s how they have responded so far:
Calls for Moore to exit the Senate race
In addition to McConnell, Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Moore should withdraw as a candidate in the face of the allegations.
On the day The Washington Post story was published, McCain said in a tweet that Moore should “immediately step aside.”
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania in an interview on NBC on Sunday said, “I have to say, I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.”
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee suggested in a tweet that he had never supported Moore, even before the allegations.
Maine Republican Susan Collins said in a statement: “I have now read Mr. Moore’s statement and listened to his radio interview in which he denies the charges. I did not find his denials to be convincing and believe that he should withdraw from the Senate race in Alabama.”
Utah Sen. Orin Hatch said, “I stand with the majority leader on this. These are serious and disturbing accusations, and while the decision is now in the hands of the people of Alabama, I believe Luther Strange is an excellent alternative.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted that Moore should step aside.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., called for him to step aside and said if he does not, the Senate should act to remove him. Young’s office provided this statement to ABC News: “After giving Roy Moore ample time to unequivocally deny the disturbing allegations against him, those allegations remain far more persuasive than the denials. Roy Moore should immediately drop out of the race. The appearance of grossly reprehensible behavior disqualifies him from service in the United States Senate. If he does not step aside, we need to act to protect the integrity of the Senate.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also tweeted that Moore should withdraw.
And Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted late Monday, “There are no words. Other than step aside immediately.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R – MO)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R – MS)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R – ID)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R – NE)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R – GA)
Sen. John Kennedy (R – LA)
Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY)
Sen. Todd Young (R – IN)
Most Republican senators who have weighed in have said that “if” the allegations are true against Moore, he should step aside from the race. All of the responses below were made in statements unless otherwise indicated.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee: “If these disturbing allegations are true, Roy Moore should withdraw from the Senate race.”
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming: “These are disturbing and credible accusations. If they’re true, Mr. Moore should step aside immediately.”
Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas: “He believes that if the allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside — no ifs, and/or buts about it.”
Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina: “If any aspect of The Washington Post story is true, he should do the right thing and withdraw.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia: “If the allegations reported in The Washington Post are true, Roy Moore should immediately step aside.”
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas: “Well I think the next steps are up to the governor and the people of Alabama. I find it deeply disturbing and troubling. If it is true, I don’t think his candidacy is sustainable.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: “These are serious and troubling allegations. If they are true, Judge Moore should immediately withdraw. However, we need to know the truth, and Judge Moore has the right to respond to these accusations.”
Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming: “Sen. Enzi does believe that if the allegations are true that Roy Moore should step aside from the race.”
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa: “Sen. Ernst has said if the allegations are true, he needs to step aside.”
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado: “The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling. If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah: “If the deeply disturbing allegations in The Washington Post are true, Sen. Hatch believes that Judge Moore should step aside immediately.”
Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada: “If the allegations are true, Sen. Heller believes Moore should step aside.”
Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota in a tweet: “The allegations against Roy Moore are very serious and if true, he should step down as a candidate for the Senate.”
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma: “If he’s guilty at all, we will figure out some way, or should figure out some way, to make sure he is not our nominee. I think everybody’s in agreement.”
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin: “If true, these allegations describe intolerable behavior and are disqualifying.”
Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a statement prior to McConnell’s comments Monday: “Senator Lankford agrees with Majority Leader McConnell and the White House that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore should step aside.”
Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas: “If there is any truth to these allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska: “I’m horrified and if this is true he needs to step down immediately.”
Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, on camera to C-SPAN: “It’s early, we don’t know all the facts, obviously. But these allegations are very serious and if they’re true then in my opinion he should step down and withdraw from the race.”
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio: “I think if what we read is true, and people are on the record so I assume it is, then he should step aside.”
Sen. James Risch of Idaho: “If these allegations are true, Roy Moore must step aside.”
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas: “If the allegations are true, Senator Roberts would urge Roy Moore to step aside.”
Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota: “If they are true then he should seriously think about stepping aside.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida: “Today’s report in The Washington Post raises allegations against Mr. Moore that are deeply disturbing and, if true, disqualifying.”
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska: “The Post’s story is appalling and heartbreaking. If there’s an ounce of truth to any of this, Roy Moore has no place in public life and ought to drop out immediately. Alabamians should start thinking about who they’ll write in but it’s obvious that conservatives deserve better than this.”
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina: “If allegations are true, Mr. Moore should step down.”
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, to media on camera: “It’s a devastating, nasty story. If the revelations, if that’s true, I don’t believe that there’d be any place for him in the US Senate.”
Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama, who lost to Moore in the Republican primary for the Senate, said to the media on camera of the allegations: “They’ve just come to light and I’ve just read about them. It’s very, very disturbing what I’ve read about and I’ll have more to say about it, I’m sure, after I’ve learned more. I’ll have more to say about it after I learn more.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska: “If these sickening claims are true, Mr. Moore should step aside.”
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to the media on camera: “The allegations, if true, to me, mean he may need to step aside. I think if he does what he should do, and does the right thing and steps aside, I don’t think it will hurt the Republican Party.”
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said to a local NBC station: “I don’t know what the facts are. I do know that the charges are very very serious and if they’re true, he should do the right thing. But they’re very very old charges. You have to ask and I think people in Alabama will be asking why this hasn’t come out in the 40 years time with him running for so many offices.”
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