WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday said Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should "step aside" and suggested current Sen. Luther Strange as a potential write-in candidate to defeat him.
During an interview on Sunday's "Meet The Press," Toomey, R-Pa., would not say whether it would be better or worse for Senate Republicans if Moore is elected as Alabama's next senator, and he did not rule out the possibility that Republicans could work to unseat Moore if he wins the special election against Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12.
"You know, this is a terrible situation, nearly 40-year-old allegation, we'll probably never know for sure exactly what happened," Toomey said. "But from my point of view, you know, I have to say, I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside."
Toomey also called Strange, who lost the Republican primary against Moore earlier this year, "a good candidate" for a write-in campaign, while noting the difficulty of being elected without being on the ballot.
This week, The Washington Post reported on Moore's relationships with teenage girls while he was in his early 30s, including a woman who said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14.
"I think Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, right? We've got a 40-year-old allegation that is unprovable, probably," Toomey said. "And despite that, many of us are suggesting that the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the accuser and, therefore, many of us, I'll speak for myself, would prefer for Roy to step aside. I think that's a responsible way to approach this."
Moore has staunchly denied the allegations, calling the report that he inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl "completely false and untrue."
Well over a dozen Republicans have called for Moore to step aside from the race, and the Senate Republican fundraising arm also pulled its support.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., indicated on "Meet The Press" that she'd be open to the Senate attempting to expel Moore from the upper chamber if he wins, which would require two-thirds of the body supporting the move to unseat him. "That's one way we could do it," she said.
Also on "Meet The Press," White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short acknowledged the gravity of the allegations, saying there is "a special place in hell for people who have done those crimes" and "there's no senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia."
But Short also questioned why allegations of misconduct more than four decades old have come to light one month before Election Day.
Toomey also said the 40-year time frame "raises a question about the credibility" because "when someone waits 40 years before they make an accusation, you know, that raises a question itself. So it's probably not knowable. But there seems to be enough there that it's very disturbing."
Short also added some caution to the reports, saying, "we here in Washington have to be careful as well in this," noting Moore has been elected multiple times in Alabama and "the people of Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in D.C."
Repeatedly asked whether President Donald Trump will re-insert himself into the race, Short noted that Trump already campaigned for Strange, Moore's opponent during the primary.
Short also wouldn't go as far as to say that Moore should be disqualified from being seated in the Senate if he wins next month.
"If more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this, then sure, by all means he should be disqualified," Short said. "But that's a huge if, and I think we have to allow that more facts come out."