Jana Riess: Are Mormons the new conscience of the GOP?

Gage Skidmore, Courtesy RNS

Mitt Romney said last week that Roy Moore is “unfit” as the GOP Senate nominee for Alabama’s special election on Dec. 12.

“Unfit.” That’s what Mitt Romney said late last week about Roy Moore, the controversial former state judge who’s on the ballot as the GOP Senate nominee for Alabama’s special election on Dec. 12. Moore is under fire for allegations that he had sexual and romantic contact with girls as young as 14.

Romney said Moore should step aside, and that he believed the accusers. It wasn’t until Monday (Nov. 13) that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell followed suit without hedging his criticism by saying that Moore should drop out of the race “if” the accusations are true. On Monday, McConnell took a page from Romney’s playbook, saying he believed the women, and that Moore should leave the race, full stop.

But Romney said it first. And as I wrote in October, he’s not the only Mormon Republican leader to publicly criticize members of his own party in these unusual times. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., denounced President Trump’s administration from the Senate floor, saying he could not be complicit in Trump’s irresponsible and vengeful behavior.

And that’s not all.

Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s longest-serving member, sharply criticized Trump’s handling of Charlottesville: “We should call evil by its name,” he tweeted. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

Hatch did support Trump’s candidacy in 2016 — but plenty of high-profile Mormons did not. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah; and others either withdrew their…

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