A small but growing number of Republican senators are calling for Roy Moore to drop out of 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. Fifteen of them are calling for Moore to withdraw from the race. Five have withheld comment. A majority have qualified their remarks by saying if the allegations are true, Moore should step aside.
Not one Republican senator is publicly calling for Moore to stay in the Alabama special election to fill the seat left vacant by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 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 young women when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was single and in his 30s.
Moore 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, several senators on Monday clarified their positions on Moore’s candidacy and called for the Alabama candidate to step aside.
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina tweeted, “The allegations leveled at Roy Moore are disturbing. I have serious concerns about his prior conduct and fitness for office. He should immediately withdraw from the race.”
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told reporters that if it came down to voting for a Democrat or Roy Moore, he would vote for a Democrat, and said Moore should step aside.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters Monday that Moore shouldn’t put his state through any more turmoil and step aside. “If you win, you will lose,” Graham said.
On the day The Washington Post story was published last week, Sen. John McCain said in a tweet that Moore should “immediately step aside.”
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Monday said Moore should withdraw from the race.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee suggested in a tweet that he had never supported Moore, even before the allegations.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine 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. Orrin 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. Chuck Grassley of Iowa told local reporters Friday: ““He should step aside. The trouble is, if he agreed to step aside, his name is still on the ballot. People can still vote for him and he could get elected.”
Sen. Todd Young of Indiana called for Moore 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.”
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released this statement on Monday: “I believe the individuals speaking out against Roy Moore spoke with courage and truth, proving he is unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office. If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told reporters on Monday that Moore should “seriously consider” dropping out of the race.
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia told reporters Monday that Moore should step down. “The accusations appear more credible than the denial,” he said.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a statement on Monday: “I believe the accusations against Roy Moore are disturbing and, if true, disqualifying. The most appropriate course of action, in my view, is to leave the final judgment in the hands of Alabama voters – where it has always belonged – and withdraw my endorsement.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said on Fox News Monday afternoon, “I do think for the conservative movement, for the things that we as conservatives think are important, I think it would be better if someone replaced Judge Moore.” He also rescinded his endorsement for Moore on Saturday.
“Based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support,” Cassidy tweeted.
Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Steven Daines of Montana, who were early supporters of Moore, also revoked their endorsements.
A spokesman for Sen. Lee confirmed to ABC that the senator does believe Moore should step aside.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R – ID)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R – NE)
Sen. John Kennedy (R – LA)
Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY)
Most Republican senators who have weighed in have said that “if” the allegations against Moore are true, he should drop out of 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. Roy Blunt of Missouri: “The women have a more credible story than Judge Moore. Alabama voters should have a better choice and Judge Moore should have better answers to these charges.”
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. Thad Cochran of Mississippi: “Senator Cochran has not commented on the Alabama Senate campaign. He, of course, opposes all forms of harassment.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Monday told reporters Mr. Moore was “entitled to put forth facts demonstrating that the charges are not true,” but said he was “not able to urge the people of Alabama to support his candidacy so long as these allegations remain unrefuted.”
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. 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, in 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. Luther Strange of Alabama, who lost to Moore in the Republican primary for the Senate told reporters on Monday: “The facts are unfolding; these allegations are very serious. We learned more today. It’s really going to be up to the people of my state to try to make sense of this and decide how they want to proceed.” Strange wouldn’t confirm whether he would run as a write-in candidate.
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 told 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.”