Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the latest Republican senator to withdraw support for Roy Moore after four women reported that he pursued them sexually or romantically when they were teenagers.
“I believe the women,” McConnell told reporters in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, according to the Associated Press. He said that Moore “should step aside” in the race for Alabama’s Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. McConnell added that the party was considering supporting a write-in candidate.
Moore responded to McConnell’s statement with defiance:
Previously, a number of Republican senators, including McConnell, had said Moore should drop out of the race if the allegations against him were true. But Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) unequivocally pulled their support from Moore on Friday. Their statements came after Moore said, in an interview with Sean Hannity on Friday afternoon, that the women’s reports were false but that he had “dated a lot of young ladies” 40 years ago. Asked if he had dated teenagers, he replied, “Not generally, no.”
Leigh Corfman, one of the women who spoke to the Washington Post about Moore, said that Moore kissed and touched her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32. That would have been illegal under Alabama law, but the statute of limitations for the crime has long since run out.
Moore had a 10-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, in an Emerson College poll released on Monday; other polls showed a smaller margin. In another poll, 37 percent of Alabama evangelicals said the allegations against Moore made them more likely to vote for him.