Why Franken's resignation puts some Republicans in a moral quandary

It's forcing them to address the candidacy of Roy Moore in Alabama.
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It's forcing them to address the candidacy of Roy Moore in Alabama.

It's not something you think you'd see – prominent right-leaning commentators defending Al Franken.

Nonetheless, that has happened since the senator's resignation became imminent, with former Illinois congressman turned conservative talkshow host Joe Walsh leaping to his aid, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

So why the defense all of a sudden? It could have something to do with the Republican Party and President Donald Trump supporting Roy Moore, the man fighting to win a Senate special election in Alabama next week.

Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct more severe than what Franken has faced – including one woman who alleges Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was just 14.

Moore's support has shrunk to the point where he is facing a real battle to win the Senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones, despite Alabama being a historically red state.

Franken's resignation presents some Moore-defending Republicans with a new problem.

"What about Al Franken?" has been a popular response from Moore backers when faced with articles, columns and tweets critical of the candidate. Here's Mike Huckabee on Tuesday:

Trump's White House counselor Kellyanne Conway herself defended the president's support for Moore Wednesday morning, while questioning why Franken was still in the Senate.

It's also been a common response to anyone calling out President Trump for the accusations of sexual misconduct he has also faced in recent years, with Franken himself saying it's ironic he's leaving “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assaults sits in the Oval Office."

But the "What about Al Franken?" argument diminished as soon as prominent Democratic leaders called for Franken to step down, heaping on the pressure that led to his resignation Thursday.

Notable activist Michael Brodkorb, the former Republican Party of Minnesota deputy chair, pointed out the conundrum now facing GOPers regarding Moore and President Trump – himself accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct in the past.

Similar sentiments have been echoed by the managing editor of the right-leaning Washington Examiner Phillip Klein, and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum.

Franken follows legendary Detroit congressman Rep. John Conyers out of office, who resigned following pressure over sexual misconduct allegations.

Some are saying the fall of Franken and Conyers is a cynical political ploy by a party trying to gain the moral high ground, but that doesn't change the fact Republicans will now find it harder to defend Moore, as well as their president.

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