U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Thursday that Roy Moore, the conservative GOP candidate for Alabama's empty Senate seat, should withdraw from the race if allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl are true.
“These are very serious allegations and if true he should step down,” said Daines, who had endorsed Moore earlier this week.
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that Moore sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was a district attorney in Alabama. The newspaper also reported three other women said Moore pursued them when they were between 16-18 years old and Moore was in his 30s, but said he did not force them into a sexual relationship.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, also called on Moore to withdraw.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a statement.
In September, Moore defeated Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. Strange was supported by Republican President Donald Trump.
Moore is running against Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. The special election is Dec. 12.
Moore released a statement Thursday calling the Post's story a "baseless political attack," claiming if the allegations were true they would have been made public earlier.
In endorsing Moore earlier this week, Daines called him "a principled conservative, and he will help reform Washington and return power to the people of America. I look forward to working with Judge Moore on ideas to cut taxes, rein in the national debt, and boost job growth.
“As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I welcome Judge Moore’s perspective on strengthening the military and protecting American soil. Roy Moore served honorably in Vietnam as an Army officer, and he has the mud-on-the-(boots) experience we need in the U.S. Senate. I am proud to endorse his candidacy.”
Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court judge who was removed from the bench for refusing to remove a carving of the 10 Commandments, was also endorsed by Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah; Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas.