The White House said Friday that Republican Roy Moore should drop out of the Senate race if allegations are true that he pursued a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
President Donald Trump "believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said aboard Air Force One en route to Vietnam.
"However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside," she said.
Moore has denied the allegations, which were published Thursday by The Washington Post. The story included accounts by four women who allege, on the record, that the 70-year-old Alabama Republican tried to start sexual relationships with them while they were in their teens, and he was in his 30s.
One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 when she met Moore in 1979, after he offered to babysit her while her mother attended a custody hearing at the courthouse where he worked.
Corfman said Moore pursued a relationship with her, and brought her to his apartment multiple times, where he engaged in sexual behavior with her that made Corfman deeply uncomfortable.
Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also called on Moore to withdraw from the race if the allegations are true.
In a statement, Moore told the Post: "These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign."
Moore scored an upset defeat over incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the September Alabama primary. Moore was backed by former top Trump aide Steve Bannon and Strange was backed by Trump. After the vote, Trump called Moore to congratulate him. Sanders said later that Trump does not share Moore's evangelical Christian views and his positions on several other issues.