FRIDAY UPDATE: With outrage growing, Cory Gardner’s “if true” avoidance qualifier becomes less tenable by the minute:
Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 10, 2017
UPDATE #2: The Hill:
Embattled Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore told supporters on Thursday that he would not back down amid calls for him to step aside from the race following a new report that accuses him of inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor in 1979.
“I refuse to stand down,” he said in a new email.
Moore blasted the accusations, levied in a new story by The Washington Post, in a fundraising email to supporters. He called the allegations attacks from “the Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs.”
“The forces of evil are on the march in our country…I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values,” he wrote.
Wow. This defense of Roy Moore from AL state Auditor Jim Ziegler:
“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”https://t.co/IhaWiCEFmq
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 9, 2017
FOX News reports on the huge scandal brewing in the Alabama special U.S. Senate election, threatening to upset the campaign of far-right Republican Roy Moore ahead of his up-to-now likely victory:
Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is firing back after The Washington Post published the account of a woman who claims the former judge and staunch social conservative initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 – allegations that have rocked the race in the final stretch…
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who backed Moore’s rival Luther Strange in the GOP primary, said in a statement: “If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, called the allegations “deeply troubling” and said: “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.” [Pols emphasis]
But Moore’s campaign issued a statement saying the report is “baseless” and false.
There hasn’t been anything as of this writing that’s surfaced to cast doubt on the reporting in the Washington Post’s story today, but the allegations date from the year 1979. There is no physical evidence one way or the other to support the allegations, and the statute of limitations for the offenses that would have been committed is long past. That means it’s highly unlikely that new information will come out to “prove” these allegations one way or the other, and Moore has denied everything. You could reasonably conclude from this that National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Cory Gardner just said he’s leaving it up to Moore to decide.
So what happens next? That depends. The swift condemnation of Moore from some other fellow Republicans, including Sen. John McCain’s call for Moore to “immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of” disregards the possibility that Moore is not guilty, simply arguing that Moore is unacceptably tainted by the allegations–and with the election fast approaching, that Republicans should find somebody else now. Moore’s embarrassingly fringe politics, public awareness of which has been getting worse with each passing news cycle, were already making him a political liability to fellow Republicans. Now, needless to say, it’s a lot worse.
But the bottom line is, if Moore doesn’t want to get out of the race, nobody can really make him. And if he wins? We already have a precedent for what will happen then. In President Donald Trump. And that is why Cory Gardner can’t make the call on his own.
Because he might have to eat his words, just like he did with Trump.
Morality’s got nothing to do with it, folks.