As women continue to come forward to accuse Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of making sexual or romantic advances while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Friday that it’s still not clear to him whether the accusations are true.
“I still am not sure whether or not the allegations are true. I know that they are very damning and damaging,” Merrill told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked if he would call for Moore to step aside in the race.
Merrill previously said that it’s “possible” the accusers are “making it up.”
Though Merrill cast doubt on the accusers’ credibility, he was clear that the allegations reflect poorly on Moore and the state of Alabama.
“The thing that’s the most frustrating and the most disappointing is that these allegations reflect very poorly on Judge Moore and our state as a whole because Judge Moore is the Republican standard bearer in the Senate race,” he said. “Because of that, for more than a week, it put Alabama in a difficult position and a very damaging position nationwide as far as the spotlight is concerned. That’s not something that we’re very proud of.”
Merrill said that the Alabama voters will have to reach their own conclusions about the accusations and Moore’s behavior in the December election. He also said that there is no way for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “save” the seat for Republicans ahead of the election, noting that the state does not allow for substitute candidates.
“Their position is try to save the seat and make sure the Republican majority is preserved, but that is only going to happen if judge Roy Moore wins the election,” he told CNN. “There is no way that a substitute can be provided. He is the standard bearer for the party at this particular time.”
Merrill said that party leaders’ commentary on Moore has been unhelpful.
“The information that continues to come in from the national commentators is not helping to clear up the situation,” he said. “In many ways it has intended to cloud up the situation. That has been very difficult.”