- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is appealing to the White House about the Alabama Senate race and said he may push a write-in candidate over Republican Roy Moore, though such an effort faces huge difficulties and could hand the seat over to the Democrats.

Mr. McConnell said he’d already spoken to President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly about Mr. Moore and the multiple named women who have accused him of sexual abuse. There will be further conversations when Mr. Trump returns Tuesday night from a lengthy tour of Asia, the Kentucky Republican said at a forum Tuesday organized by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Moore is “obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening,” Mr. McConnell said, adding that Mr. Trump is discussing the party’s options “in great detail.”

Both Mr. McConnell and the other top Capitol Hill Republican, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, have said they believe Mr. Moore’s accusers. Other Republicans have even said the Senate should refuse to seat him in the chamber if he wins.

“These allegations are credible,” Mr. Ryan said, referring to the multiple women who have come forward to say Mr. Moore pursued relationships with them when he was in his 30s and they were teens.

“If he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside,” Mr. Ryan said.


SEE ALSO: Sean Hannity gives Roy Moore 24-hour ultimatum to clear up explanation or leave race


But since Mr. Moore’s name is already on absentee ballots that have been distributed for the Dec. 12 special election, he cannot legally be removed from the ballot.

“This close to election, it’s a complicated matter,” Mr. McConnell said.

Mr. Moore, who built his image as an unrepentant outsider, repeated Tuesday that he will not drop out.

“Alabamians will not be fooled by this #InsideHitJob. Mitch McConnell’s days as Majority Leader are coming to an end very soon. The fight has just begun,” he posted on Twitter.

The national party continued to distance itself from Mr. Moore on Tuesday, with the Republican National Committee reportedly withdrawing its support for the campaign.

According to a report in Politico, citing “a senior party official briefed on the decision,” the RNC is ceasing joint fundraising operations with the Moore campaign, will transfer no more money and will pull a team of paid canvassers to aid the Moore team in the state.

Other Republicans are debating a write-in campaign with another candidate, possibly incumbent Sen. Luther Strange or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose appointment to that post led him to resign his Senate seat and start this very election.

But according to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, no write-in candidate has ever won a statewide election in the state.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, also warned Tuesday about write-in campaigns, telling Fox Business Channel that they are notoriously difficult unless the candidate already has name recognition in the state.

“I think there’s a better way to do it, which is if a candidate is not qualified, that candidate should be removed,” he said. “Or if it’s too late to remove them, just let the voters know the person will not be seated.”

Additionally, a write-in candidate could split the Republican vote enough to give the victory to Democrat Doug Jones even in deep-red Alabama. Cook Political Report changed the rating of the race to “toss up” in light of the Moore accusations.

Mr. Jones released a new television ad Tuesday in which self-identified Republican voters say they are backing Mr. Jones because they can’t stomach Mr. Moore over the sex assault accusations.

“I am a Republican, but Roy Moore? No way,” a man says in the spot. “This time, it is even worse,” another man says. “You read the story, and it just shakes you,” a woman says.

Others say the stories about Mr. Moore are “just awful.” Some say, “I just don’t trust him,” “He is too divisive,” and “Don’t decency and integrity matter anymore?”

• Seth McLaughlin and Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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