WASHINGTON — Louisiana's two Republican U.S. senators responded with alarm Monday amid mounting sexual-assault allegations and growing denunciations of Roy Moore, the GOP's candidate for an open Alabama U.S. Senate seat.
The state's two senators struck different notes, however, when asked about allegations from several women that Moore sexually pursued them when they were teenagers in the 1970s.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, suggested the allegations against Moore are credible and called on him to leave the race.
The women's accounts are "circumstantial," Cassidy said, "but circumstantial seems to favor the women’s stories."
Cassidy had renounced his endorsement of Moore in a Sunday tweet, citing the women's accounts and Moore's varying responses to the allegations.
Based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support.— Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) November 12, 2017
Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, was more cautious when pressed by reporters about the latest accusation against Moore and mounting calls from Capitol Hill leaders for the candidate to step aside.
"If the allegations are true, Judge Moore needs to step aside," Kenendy told The Advocate. "That's all I'm going to say on the subject."
Kennedy repeated the line when pressed by reporters about growing denunciations of Moore from Kennedy's GOP colleagues, including a call from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado and the chair of the Senate Republican campaign committee, to expel Moore from the Senate if elected.
Kennedy's comments echoed the initial response from Republicans in the wake of a Washington Post report last Thursday that Moore when in his 30s pursued at least four teenage girls and had sexual contact with at least one, who was 14 years old at the time.
But other GOP senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have become more direct in their condemnation of Moore in recent days. McConnell on Monday morning said, "I believe the women." Hours later, a fifth woman came forward to accuse Moore of sexually assaulting her when Moore was a local prosecutor and she was a 16-year-old waitress.
Kennedy said he wanted to see additional evidence to back up the women's accounts or bolster their claims before turning against Moore's candidacy.
Cassidy declined to comment on the possibility of expelling Moore from the U.S. Senate if elected — a rare move that requires the vote of two-thirds of the chamber.
"But I do think for the conservative movement, for the things that we as conservatives think are important, I think it'd be better if someone replaced Judge Moore," Cassidy told Fox News.
"I'm not trying to take a lick at Judge Moore," Cassidy added, "I just think it's better for the conservative cause and the state of Alabama if a different person steps forward."