Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Alabama Senate GOP candidate Roy Moore should leave the race, saying he believes the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct.
“I think he should step aside,” McConnell told reporters in Louisville, adding: “I believe the women, yes.”
The comments go further than the majority leader’s initial statement last week, which came after the Washington Post reported that four women said Moore pursued them as teenagers when he was in his 30s. McConnell said then that Moore should leave the race if the allegations were true.
Several other Senate Republicans have since called on Moore to get out of the Dec. 12 election, including Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Lee of Utah and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
But there are no signs the pressure from Washington will sway Moore, the defiant former judge who was twice removed from the state’s highest court.
Shortly after McConnell’s remarks on Monday, Moore’s campaign account tweeted: “The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp.”
Party officials are also exploring whether to pursue a write-in bid to try to retain the Senate seat in the deeply conservative state. Notably, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who kept her own seat through a write-in campaign, has encouraged Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) to consider one.
“That’s an option we’re looking at, whether or not there is someone who can mount a write-in campaign successfully,” McConnell said during a news conference on tax reform. Whether that candidate could be Strange, the appointed senator whom Moore defeated in the primary, McConnell added: “We’ll see.”
Polls had already shown a surprisingly close race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones even before the allegations broke. The most recently released survey, conducted by the Republican-leaning firm JMC Analytics and Polling, shows Jones leading Moore by 4 percentage points.