Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney called Friday for Roy Moore, the GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama, to step aside following a report that Moore sought a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, joined a growing list of conservatives distancing themselves from Moore, a controversial figure who was twice removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court.
What are the allegations against Moore?
Leigh Corfman, now 53, told the Washington Post that Moore approached her outside a courtroom in Alabama in 1979 during her mother’s child custody hearing and asked for her phone number.
A few days later, Corfman said Moore called her and arranged to pick her up near her house. He took her to his home about 30 minutes away and kissed her. During another encounter, Corfman said, Moore brought her inside the house, stripped to his underwear and removed her shirt and pants. He then touched her over her bra and underwear and placed her hand over his underwear. Corfman said she was upset by the encounter and asked Moore to take her home, and he did.
Three other women said Moore asked them out on dates as teenagers but did not allege forced sexual contact.
Moore and his campaign denied the allegations.
What did Romney say?
In a tweet Friday, Romney said the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty is “for criminal convictions, not elections.”
“I believe Leigh Corfman,” Romney said. “Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”
Romney is reportedly weighing a Senate bid of his own next year.
What are others saying about Moore?
Romney's tweet echoed that of another former Republican presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who called the allegations against Moore “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”
“He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of,” McCain said.
The Daily Beast reported Friday that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee — the campaign arm for Senate Republicans — has been removed from a joint fundraising committee with Moore’s campaign, a sign they are severing financial ties with Moore. The NRSC did not immediately return TheBlaze’s request for comment.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in a statement Friday likened Moore to Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, and Roger Ailes.
"[Four] women have come forward with detailed stories about Roy Moore," she said. "Their stories are confirmed through numerous sources who knew of the actions at the time or well before now."
Comstock added Moore has yet to provide "any credible explanation or response to the detailed allegations, particularly the allegations by a woman who was at the time a 14 year old girl and Roy Moore was a 32 year-old district attorney."
"The defense from some of his supporters is beyond disturbing," she concluded. "Today, the National Review Editorial board also set out the case against Roy Moore and why he should drop out. Roy Moore should not serve in the U.S. Senate."
The influential conservative publication National Review called for Moore to drop out and for Alabama conservatives to select a write-in candidate in his place. In an editorial, the publication argued that Moore’s “vulnerabilities are now endangering what should be a completely safe Senate seat”:
We, nonetheless, have little doubt that he will soldier on, and he might well still win in December. The better option would be to spare his party the exertions of defending him against these latest allegations (some of his colleagues have already disgraced themselves with absurd rationalizations), and back a new write-in candidate for the seat. That this would be the reasonable thing to do is one reason we assume Moore will do the opposite.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich also called for Moore to leave the race.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who previously endorsed Moore, has asked for his image to be removed from Moore's campaign literature.
Many Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, didn’t directly call for Moore to step aside but said he should do so "if" the allegations are true.
How are the allegations impacting the race?
According to Buzzfeed, a poll conducted Thursday by Opinion Savvy and commissioned by Decision Desk HQ shortly after the allegations came to light show the once-safe Republican Senate seat is now too close to call.
— Decision Desk HQ (@DecisionDeskHQ) November 10, 2017
The poll showed Moore tied with Democrat Doug Jones at 46 percent each. Moore lead Jones by 6 points in a September Decision Desk poll.
This was done the same day the Moore child-molestation story broke. But perhaps before it had a chance to fully sink in. https://t.co/QbhfDNaKPE
— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) November 10, 2017
It's worth emphasizing that in the @DecisionDeskHQ's previous (9/29/17) poll of the AL-SEN race, Moore led Jones by 50.2-44.5%,
— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) November 10, 2017
This post has been updated to include a statement from Rep. Barbara Comstock.