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McCain, Flake call on Moore to drop Senate bid after sex conduct claims

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — Both of Arizona’s senators said Thursday that Roy Moore, who is running for an Alabama Senate seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, should bow out after it was alleged he had sexual contact with a teenager years ago.

Sen. John McCain called the allegations “deeply disturbing and disqualifying” in a two-sentence statement.

“[Moore] should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of,” the statement said.

Sen. Jeff Flake echoed McCain’s statement, saying Moore should likely remove himself from the race.

“If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside — and now,” he told media.

When asked if Moore would be fit to serve should the allegations be true, Flake said, “No. No. No. If there’s any shred of truth, he ought to step aside immediately.”

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, had inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl at least once in 1979.

Three other women alleged that Moore had pursued them in some form. All were between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time. The age of consent in Alabama is 16.

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary said in a statement that the claims “if true…would disqualify anyone from serving in office.”

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell also said Moore should step aside if the allegations were true.

Moore’s campaign called the allegations fake news.

“Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake,” the campaign said in a statement.

The statement also noted Moore, now 70, has been married to the same woman for 33 years and has four children and five grandchildren.

It continued: “After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now.”

Dropping out of the Senate race would prove to be difficult. Moore’s name will appear on the ballot because a key registration deadline has passed.

However, the Republican Party and Moore can revoke his nomination and, no matter the result of the Dec. 12 special election, the state canvassing board would declare the Democrat the winner.

Moore has been a divisive figure in Alabama for years. He was twice elected to and twice removed the state’s supreme court and has been tied to white supremacist groups and supported the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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