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President must force Moore to quit race

President must force Moore to quit race

GOP will be hurt by controversial candidate, regardless of whether he wins or loses
President must force Moore to quit race
Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for Alabama’s open Senate seat, in Homewood, Ala., on Aug. 10, 2017.
Photographer: Kevin D. Liles/The New York Times

The allegations by five women that Roy Moore pursued and sexually molested teenage girls while he was in his 30s are disgusting, and disqualify him to serve in the United States Senate.

Conservatives should be outraged at Moore for his loathsome conduct. But they should also be outraged at the man who helped put Moore on the ballot and is in the process of destroying the Trump presidency: Stephen K. Bannon.

If the man Trump supported in the primary, Sen. Luther Strange, were the Republican nominee today, the GOP would be cruising to an easy victory in the Dec. 12 special election. But thanks to Bannon’s insurgent campaign for Moore, Republicans could lose the Alabama Senate seat.

The Cook Political Report has moved the race from a safe Republican seat to a “toss up.”

If more credible allegations emerge before Election Day, Moore’s remaining support could crumble. If more voters are persuaded as more evidence emerges, it could give Democrats the margin of victory.

Win or lose, Moore’s candidacy is a disaster for the GOP.

If he wins despite the allegations, it will send a signal to women everywhere that Republicans do not believe that credible allegations of a grown man molesting a 14-year-old girl are disqualifying. And if he loses, his defeat will dramatically increase the chances that Democrats will win control of the Senate in next year’s midterm elections.

That means no more conservative judges, no more conservative legislation — effectively ending the Trump presidency. Democrats would also be in charge of the Russia investigation and have unbridled subpoena power.

And if Democrats also win control of the House, then it’s impeachment time. If any of that comes to pass, Trump can thank one man: Bannon.

Even if Republicans manage to hold the Senate, Bannon’s campaign to unseat GOP incumbents is making it less likely that Republicans will expand their Senate majority in 2018.

It should be clear by now that having 52 GOP senators is not enough to pass Trump’s agenda. So conservatives should be pouring all their resources into defeating vulnerable Democrats, not diverting millions from those efforts to fund Bannon’s needless internecine war.

Now that Bannon is doubling down in supporting Moore, Republican donors must stop supporting Bannon’s war against Republican incumbents.

And Trump should intervene to stop Bannon’s continued support of Moore and publicly urge the members of Alabama’s Republican Party central steering committee to pull Moore’s nomination when they meet later this week.

Competitive primaries can be a good thing. But in this case, Republicans ended up with an alleged predator.

Goodness knows he would not be the first one to walk the halls of the Senate.

In this case, Alabama voters would be sending Moore to Washington with full knowledge of the allegations against him.

That puts Republicans in a quandary.

For all the grand talk of expelling Moore after he is elected, it is an open question whether Republicans would really set the precedent of kicking out a senator for alleged behavior — no matter how heinous — that happened decades before he was elected to the Senate, particularly if it was known to the voters who elected him.

Moreover, expulsion is not so simple. 

Moore would be seated, and there would be an ethics investigation that could take months — with public hearings and witnesses. That is a spectacle no one wants.

The best solution is to make sure Moore never makes it to Washington. Some have suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions launch a write-in campaign, but this could split the GOP vote and thus make a Democratic victory more likely.

So Republicans, including the president, had better act quickly and get Moore to step aside.

Marc A. Thiessen is a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush.

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