Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday he believes the women who have alleged that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers.
“I believe the women, yes,’’ he said.
McConnell, speaking to reporters at a plant in Kentucky, also urged the Alabama Republican to step aside from the Senate race, which voters will decide next month.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, added that he's looking at other Republican options for the seat, including incumbent Luther Strange, who lost a primary to Moore earlier this year. The December election is to replace ex-Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican who stepped down to become President Trump's attorney general.
"We're looking at whether or not there is not someone who can mount a write-in campaign successfully," McConnell said.
Moore has vehemently denied the allegations, reported by the Washington Post last week, that he had inappropriate relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s.
But many Republicans have said he should step aside.
One woman, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 when Moore, then 32, took her to his home in 1979, undressed her and, according to the report, "touched her over her bra and underpants ... and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear." The age of consent in Alabama, both then and now, is 16. Another woman, Gloria Deason, said she was 18 when Moore took her on a date and bought her wine.
Moore said on Saturday that he was “not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone” and had never purchased alcohol for underage women. Both Moore and his GOP allies in Alabama have questioned the timing of the story, suggesting it was planted just to derail his political career.
McConnell had backed Strange in the primary against Moore, and Moore campaigned heavily as an outsider who would fight the entrenched Republican leadership.
On Monday Moore fired back on Twitter, saying McConnell is the one who should step aside.
© 2017 Associated Press