Senator Roy Moore was already a controversial selection for office. His contentious race in Alabama to succeed Jeff Sessions garnered national attention, and was seen as a stereotypical front where establishment Republicans and Steve Bannon-led anti-establishment candidates would face off. Moore, the anti-establishment candidate, won, even though President Trump backed his challenger Luther Strange. His victory was looked on negatively by many members of the Republican leadership – even before it was discovered that when he was 32 years old, he made sexual advances on a fourteen year old girl.
Leigh Corfman described the incident that occurred while she was 14, while several other women alleged that Moore made advances on them, too. The incident has been heavily condemned by Republicans.
“Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections,” said Mitt Romney, who recently has been expected to run for Senate in Utah in 2018. “I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”
“If there is any shred of truth to the allegations against Roy Moore, he should step aside immediately,” added Senator Jeff Flake. “Come on, Republicans. Is this who we are?” he asked. “This cannot be who we are.”
Former presidential candidate John Kasich added that he has “long opposed” Moore and “his divisive viewpoints.” He went on to say, however, that “the actions described make him unfit for office. The GOP must not support him. He should step aside.”
Meanwhile, Moore responded by taking a move out of the anti-establishment Republican playbook. He dismissed the allegations as “garbage,” calling them “the very definition of fake news.”
It remains to be seen whether he will abandon his seat – which was a large victory for Bannon’s conservative faction – or begin a career in the Senate with virtually no allies.