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McConnell: Moore should step down if allegations true

Senate Republican leadership is calling for Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore to step down as the party's nominee if new allegations of his inappropriate sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl in 1979 are true.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released brief statements on Thursday, shortly after The Washington Post published the allegations.

"If these allegations are true, he must step aside," McConnell said.

Gardner's statement echoed that from McConnell.

"The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling," he said. "If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election."

Earlier Thursday, The Washington Post reported that four women have accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s.

The 14-year-old, Leigh Corfman said she met GOP candidate Roy Moore when he offered to watch her during her mother's child custody hearing. Moore, at the time, served as an assistant district attorney.

Corfman, now 53, said Moore asked for her phone number, and that the two met on two more occasions. On the first, the two kissed. During the second, she said Moore removed his clothes, took off her shirt and pants, and touched her over her bra and underpants, according to the account in the newspaper.

Moore has been the favorite to win against Democratic candidate Doug Jones, but the shocking revelations could roil the race.

It's unclear whether the Alabama state party will stand by the nominee, but Alabama law bars any candidate from withdrawing their name within 76 days of an election. That could present a situation where Moore's name is on the ballot but he cannot be certified the winner if he wins, according to Alabama state law.

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who ran against and lost to Moore in the September GOP primary for the Senate seat, could run a write-in campaign following the allegations against Moore. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday she has talked to Strange about potentially running a write-in campaign.

However, it is unclear whether state laws would allow Strange to run a write-in campaign.

Updated 3:00 p.m.

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