GOP retreat from Moore intensifies

GOP retreat from Moore intensifies
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Republicans over the weekend continued to distance themselves from Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore (R) after a report alleged that he engaged in sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was 32. 

A number of GOP senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns MORE (R-Ky.), have said in the four days since the allegations were revealed that Moore should step aside from the race if report is true. On Sunday, multiple Republican lawmakers said Moore should exit the race should the allegations be true, with two suggesting the Alabama Republican end his Senate bid in the wake of the report.

Two Republican senators on Sunday said that the allegations against Moore appeared stronger than his denials. 

The future of the Senate race remains unclear as some lawmakers push for a potential write-in campaign.

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Republican Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Optimism grows that infrastructure deal will get to Biden's desk MORE (La.) on Saturday went so far as to pull his endorsement of Moore, who is running for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE

“Based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support,” Cassidy said Saturday night.

Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThis week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Utah) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill  Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan faces major FTC test | Amazon calls for her recusal | Warren taps commodities watchdog to probe Google Senators propose bill to help private sector defend against hackers MORE (R-Mont.) had already revoked their endorsements of Moore on Friday.

Two other Republicans, Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump helps raise million in first six months of 2021 Senate passes bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to first Black NHL player Scott: 'There is hope' for police reform bill MORE (S.C.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), argued Sunday that the allegations levied against Moore in The Washington Post are stronger than his denials.

Toomey urged Moore to step out of the race and suggested Republicans back a write-in campaign for Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangePandemic proves importance of pharmaceutical innovation The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R-Ala.), who currently holds the seat but lost the primary runoff to Moore in September.

“We’ll probably never know for sure exactly what happened. But from my point of view, you know, 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,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

“The denial was not as strong as the allegations,” Scott similarly told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The GOP’s retreat from the former Alabama judge comes after the Post in a story published Thursday detailed an account from a 53-year-old woman, Leigh Corfman, who said she had a sexual encounter with Moore in 1979, when she was 14 years old and he was 32. The report also included accounts from three other women who said Moore attempted to court them around that time, when they were between 16 and 18 years old. 

Moore and his campaign have denied the allegations by Corfman, arguing they are politically motivated and noting the timing of the Post story, which comes several weeks before the Dec. 12 special election. 

But the Senate candidate in an interview last week on Sean Hannity’s radio show admitted he may have dated girls in their late teens at that time in his life. Moore, however, said he did not “remember anything like that" and maintained that there was no inappropriate sexual behavior.

White House officials have also denounced Moore’s alleged behavior and said he should leave the race if the accusations are true — but insisted Moore has the right to defend himself.

“The president and others in the Republican Party have made clear that if the allegations are true, this man should step aside,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s “This Week.”

“But I've gone farther than that, and I've reflected something the vice president said as well, which is everybody should know that conduct is disqualifying," she continued. "And Mr. Moore has denied that conduct. I think you've got other people out there talking about what did or did not happen many years ago.”

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, condemned individuals who sexually prey on children and said that Moore should leave the race if the allegations prove to be true.

“There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty, we have to afford him the chance to defend himself," Short told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) reiterated his calls for the GOP to stop supporting Moore and also suggested a write-in campaign, noting Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Sarah Palin says she's praying about running for Senate against Murkowski Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection MORE (R-Alaska) won her seat in the upper chamber as a write-in candidate.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharManchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation | Amazon fined 6M by EU regulators Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation MORE (D-Minn.) during an appearance on “Meet the Press” noted that the Senate can expel a senator once he or she is seated in the chamber, but urged Alabama voters to consider backing Democrat Doug Jones, who was previously viewed as an underdog in the deep-red state’s race.

Polls since the Post story broke have indicated Jones may be closing the lead on Moore.

While Moore’s future in the race is uncertain, he has shown no signs that he will exit despite waning support from lawmakers who previously backed his bid.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has pulled out from its joint fundraising agreement with the Alabama GOP and the Republican National Committee.

With one more month until the special election, the Alabama Republican may face an uphill battle should he continue to lose support from his party.

— Updated 2:34 p.m.