As a political firestorm raged over allegations that he had been romantically involved with teens, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show Friday. Asked whether he had dated 17- or 18-year-old girls while he was in his 30s, Moore said he didn’t remember. “If I did, I’m not going to dispute these things, but I don’t remember anything like that,” he added.
The statement likely didn’t do his embattled candidacy any favors—even though Moore did deny having been involved with a 14-year-old. And it turns out he couldn’t deny relations with underage women in a phone call with a US senator after the show.
According to three sources briefed on the call, Moore could not deny “kissing” or “dating” teenagers while in his thirties. The Republican senator encouraged Moore to drop out of the race, the sources said. A spokesman for Moore declined to comment on an account of the phone call.
These events follow an explosive Washington Post article Thursday that reported Moore, as a 30-something man in Gadsden, Alabama, pursued intimate relations with teenagers, one of whom was just 14. Leigh Corfman told the paper that, as a 14-year-old, she had been sexually abused by Moore, who was in his thirties at the time. Debbie Wesson Gibson said that when she was 17, Moore had “kissed her once in his bedroom and once by the pool at a local country club.” Gloria Thacker was 18 when she says Moore initiated a relationship with her; she also says he gave her wine when she would have been too young to drink.
Moore also told Hannity the allegation was “politically motivated” and “completely manufactured.” Since the Post story, many Republicans have called on Moore to drop out of the race if the allegations against him are true. Earlier this evening, Senators Steve Daines and Mike Lee announced they had withdrawn their endorsements of Moore’s candidacy. “Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the US Senate,” Lee, an early and prominent endorser of Moore, said in a statement. In another statement, Daines said simply: “I am pulling my endorsement and support for Roy Moore for U.S. Senate.”
Other Republicans are standing by Moore. Reached by phone Friday evening, Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt, who represents Etowah County, where the alleged incidents took place, said he was “still very suspicious of the timing” of the women’s stories. Aderholt said he was “very pleased” that Moore had “denied many of the allegations.” Aderholt said he was currently visiting his daughter at Auburn University. Asked how he’d respond if his daughter, as a 14-year-old, was pursued by a 30-year-old, he said: “Well, that’s assuming any of this is true.”