Roy Moore Continues To Lose GOP Support Amid Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

Nov 14, 2017
Originally published on November 14, 2017 8:13 pm
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For Republicans in Congress, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is a problem they cannot figure out how to solve. Today leaders in both the House and Senate again called for Moore to drop out of the race, and the Republican National Committee cut off its fundraising to support its campaign. But Moore says he isn't going anywhere. NPR's Scott Detrow reports from the Capitol.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: In the halls of the Senate today, it felt like the Roy Moore question was starting to exasperate Republicans like John McCain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN MCCAIN: He should be gone. Now leave me alone.

DETROW: If you couldn't hear that clearly, that's, he should be gone, followed by, now leave me alone. McCain wasn't the only one sticking to a set answer in the wake of multiple allegations that Moore made sexual advances toward and sexually assaulted teenage girls. Here's Louisiana Republican John Kennedy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KENNEDY: If the allegations are true, he ought to drop out of the race.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Even if the allegations aren't confirmed or verified before the election, what do you make of that? Your colleagues are saying just drop out irregardless.

KENNEDY: If the allegations are true, he ought to drop out of the race.

DETROW: But many Republicans have moved beyond the if. House Speaker Paul Ryan...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL RYAN: Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, he should - if he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.

DETROW: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose seat Moore is trying to fill, said this during congressional testimony today.

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JEFF SESSIONS: I am - have no reason to doubt these young women.

DETROW: This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again said that he also believes the accusations and wants Moore to drop out. But no matter what Republicans do here, they can't seem to win. For one thing, saying they believe the accusations leads to a logical question like McConnell got at a press conference. If you believe the women accusing Moore of assault, do you believe the women who previously accused President Trump of assault?

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MITCH MCCONNELL: We're talking about the situation in Alabama, and I'd be happy to address that if there are any further questions.

DETROW: Another problem for establishment Republicans - Moore shows no signs of dropping out. In fact, Moore's campaign tweeted today that McConnell's days as majority leader are coming to an end very soon. If Republican leaders back a write-in candidate, they risk flipping a Senate seat in a deep-red state to Democrat Doug Jones. And on top of that, they still don't have a candidate. Sessions has been suggested, but at that hearing, he didn't sound like a man ready to step down from a cabinet seat.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SESSIONS: I have at all times conducted myself honorably and in a manner consistent with the high standards and responsibilities of the office of attorney general, which I revere. I spent 15 years in that department. I love that department. I honor that department.

DETROW: There's also been talk of the Senate not seating Moore. Maine Senator Susan Collins is very wary of that idea.

SUSAN COLLINS: I believe that if he were elected by the people of Alabama, that it'd be very difficult and would create constitutional issues were he not to be seated.

DETROW: In the meantime, Democrats are doing their best to stay out of it. Many are like Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, offering mild, distant support for Democrat Doug Jones.

DEBBIE STABENOW: Oh, I think there's a great local candidate. He is, you know, all about Alabama. And so he's doing a great job on his own.

DETROW: A great local candidate - Democrats worry any push from party leaders to back Jones could turn the race into a nationalized election between the Democrats and the Republicans. That's what many of this year's special House elections turned into, and Democrats did not win any of those races. Scott Detrow, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.