Thad Cochran says Roy Moore should drop out of Senate race; Roger Wicker and Chris McDaniel question accusers
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran joined several Republican senators this week in calling for Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore to drop out of the race amid the firestorm of allegations that has captured the attention of the nation.
Five women have come forward accusing Moore of sexual misconduct, including four who said he pursued them when they were between the ages of 14-18 and he was in his 30s. The fifth accuser, who came forward this week, said he assaulted her in his car—grabbing her and forcing her head onto his lower body—when she was 16 years old.
“I condemn harassment in any form,” Cochran said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger. “The disturbing behavior in the allegations involving Judge Moore is alarming. It seems continuing his candidacy may not be in the best interest of his state or the U.S. Senate.”
Sen. Roger Wicker and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (who’s expected to challenge Wicker in next year’s Senate race) also responded, but neither believe Moore should drop out on account of the allegations alone.
“I don’t know what the facts are,” Wicker said in a statement. “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.”
McDaniel told The Clarion-Ledger while the allegations are “troubling” and should be taken seriously, “they are just allegations, and in this country you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“Allegations from several decades ago don’t automatically translate into fact. In politics, this type of thing has become known as an October surprise … The timing of this coming out is certainly interesting to say the least.”
Roy Moore’s support system
Moore, who was elected twice to the Alabama Supreme Court and twice removed from it, is running against Democrat and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones for the Senate seat vacated earlier this year by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
While several Republicans around the country have called on Moore to drop out of the race following the allegations, many Alabama Republicans have reaffirmed their loyalty. State Auditor Jim Zeigler defended Moore’s alleged relationships with teenagers by comparing them to relationships in the Bible. Ed Henry, an Alabama state representative, said Moore’s accusers should face criminal prosecution for waiting so long to come forward.
Unlike Cochran, who made no public endorsement in Alabama’s Senate race, Wicker and McDaniel both endorsed Moore’s candidacy.