Heller: Moore should quit. Tarkanian: Innocent, until guilty.
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore never met Danny Tarkanian’s legendary father, champion basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, who had his own brushes with controversy over his storied and successful career. But the elder Tark’s experience battling the NCAA instructs his Senate-seeking son, who’s watching Moore face explosive charges down south.
“My father was attacked with false claims throughout his career, and I saw first-hand the damage it did to him and our family,” Tarkanian told me today at his family’s basketball academy off I-15. “I believe anybody who is attacked, before you rush to judgment, there should be corroborating evidence.”
Moore, a Republican, faces accusations from, at last count, five women, who claim he is guilty of sexual misconduct with them, some of whom were young teenagers at the time when the instances allegedly occurred decades ago. Moore has denied the charges, and as of this writing, refuses to exit the race.
Tuesday, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, joined a growing number of fellow Republicans calling on Moore to quit. The GOP is nervous the controversy could cause the seat to flip on Dec. 12, imperiling their already slim Senate margin.
“I believe the women who have come forward,” Heller said in a statement. “Roy Moore should do the best for the conservatives of Alabama and step aside.”
Heller, Wednesday, was busy on the Senate Finance Committee working on the Trump tax bill. His schedule made him unavailable for an interview, according to his office.
His campaign, however, was talking, issuing a statement criticizing Tarkanian, Heller’s opponent in our Senate primary next year, for not joining the GOP call for Moore to step down.
“In a statement yesterday, Danny Tarkanian decided to call five women who were sexually abused as children liars,” said the campaign in a press release.
“I wonder how Senator Heller would feel if a woman came forward next June, just weeks before our own primary election, claiming to have an affair with him many years ago – like the one his predecessor, Senator John Ensign, was caught in and forced to resign," Tarkanian said on Tuesday in his own campaign statement.
“Would Senator Heller 'step aside' just because some people 'believed' the woman?” Tarkanian asked in the statement, adding the quote for emphasis.
Heller’s campaign says Tarkanian “accused the victims of lying.”
Nonsense, Tarkanian told me today.
“I didn’t attack the accusers. I just said there should be an investigation to find out if it’s true or not," said Tarkanian.
The stakes are high in Alabama, and they’re even higher here, as Heller faces the prospect of a tough reelection fight in 2018. The verbal sparring has already begun between the campaigns and Heller is already on the air with advertisements. Political observers say Heller could be one of the most endangered GOP incumbents in the upcoming election cycle. Hence, the heat and volume over the Moore race, which is thousands of miles from Nevada.
“Simply put, it’s the establishment versus the non-establishment,” says conservative talk show host Kevin Wall, who occasionally has Tarkanian on his program. “Danny Tarkanian – nonestablishment, saying let’s see what the facts are first, let’s not convict him without a trial. Dean Heller is saying the guy needs to step aside.”
Tarkanian says Heller is playing politics.
“What’s horrible about Dean Heller is he’ll throw anybody under the bus and abandon and destroy anybody based upon uncorroborated evidence just so he could look good politically and have a chance to remain in a Senate seat," said Tarkanian.
Heller campaign spokesperson Keith Schipper slammed Tarkanian Wednesday for not denouncing Moore, saying, “he lacks the character to represent conservatives, let alone all Nevadans in the U.S. Senate.”
Tarkanian, however, says everyone’s innocent until proven guilty.
“Certainly, the number of accusers now and their statements – you have to take serious consideration in,” Tarkanian told me. “The timing of it, and the fact it’s a 40 years old, it’s four weeks out from a race, raises concerns about their credibility," said Tarkanian. "We don’t know. What I’m saying is let’s find out."
Tarkanian says if Moore wins, and evidence then surfaces, “he should be removed immediately from that seat.”
Over at his studio, Wall had a suggestion.
“I’ve got a simple solution to this: Roy Moore should take a polygraph, a lie detector test. That would solve the entire problem," said Wall.