Gov. Larry Hogan called Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore “unfit for office” on Saturday following sexual misconduct allegations made against Moore by four women.
Moore was the subject of a Washington Post article in which the women said he initiated relationships with them when they were teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Roy Moore’s defenders should ask themselves if they would be so quick to excuse him if the victim was their daughter or if the offender was a Democrat,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement, which he then tweeted. “He is unfit for office and should step aside. Americans are better than this.”
Hogan’s statements were stronger than those of some Republican figures who couched their denouncements with questions about whether the allegations against Moore were true.
Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and the state’s only GOP member of Congress, released such a statement Friday. “If the allegations regarding Leigh Corfman are accurate, Judge Moore should withdraw from the race,” he said, referring to a woman who has alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32.
The Maryland Democratic Party said Friday that Harris should withdraw his endorsement of Moore. Harris backed Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, long before the allegations were reported. Harris’ campaign committee contributed $1,000 to Moore’s campaign in September, and his leadership PAC gave another $1,000 in August.
Some Democrats said Saturday that the governor didn’t go far enough with his criticism.
"Roy Moore's homophobic, Islamophobic and white supremacist views should have been enough to keep him on the fringes of society," said Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson Fabion Seaton. "Calling on Moore to step aside is the decent thing to do, but Governor Hogan must also examine why Moore's vile views were embraced by members of the Maryland Republican establishment.”
Ben Jealous, one of several Democrats hoping to unseat the governor next year, called Hogan’s statement political and said that the governor does not speak out against extremists in his party.
“Roy Moore was already unfit for the Senate long before these heinous allegations surfaced, and we never heard a word from Larry Hogan,” Jealous said in a statement. “Larry Hogan speaking out now has more to do with politics than principle. Let’s not forget that just a week ago, the same Larry Hogan was in Virginia campaigning for another Republican extremist Ed Gillespie.”
The campaign manager for Rushern Baker, the Democratic Prince George’s County executive who is also running for governor, said denouncing Moore was an easy choice to make.
“It’s not all that surprising; it is the right thing to do,” said the campaign manager, Andrew Malinoff. “Roy Moore should drop out of the race. It is especially incumbent for our elected leaders to speak out against sexual assault.”
Moore has denied allegations of sexual misconduct. Leigh Corfman accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32, according to The Post. Three other women said he took them on dates when they were teenagers.
Speaking on Saturday to the Mid-Alabama Republican Club in suburban Birmingham, Moore called the allegations “completely false and untrue,” and said they were an intentional attempt to derail his candidacy.
“In the next few days there will be revelations about the motivations and the content of this article that will be brought to the public,” he said. “We fully expect the people of Alabama to see through this charade.”
A spokesman for Moore declined to provide further information about what information those revelations might contain.
Since The Post report appeared Thursday, a wave of national Republican leaders have called for Moore to drop out of the race if the allegations are true. They include the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has made national headlines with his recent criticisms of President Donald Trump, tweeted Saturday that Moore's nomination was “a bridge too far” even before the reports surfaced.
President Donald Trump deflected questions Saturday about whether Moore should drop out of the race because of the allegations.
Trump, who has been traveling in Asia, said he's been too busy and hasn't had time to catch up on television news coverage about Moore. "So I have not seen very much about him, about it," Trump told reporters traveling with him.
Trump referred to a written statement that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read to reporters after The Post report.
The White House statement said Trump believes Moore will "do the right thing and step aside" if the allegations are true.
The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze contributed to this article.