Senate GOP support for Roy Moore is no longer unanimous

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stops to speak with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon, May 12, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP)
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stops to speak with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy luncheon, May 12, 2015. 

Ahead of the recent Republican Senate runoff in Alabama, Karl Rove was worried about his party's likely nominee.

"Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot," Rove predicted. "Republicans will be asked, 'Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God's anger?' He'll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, 'Do you agree with that?'"

As it turns out, most GOP senators have decided they simply don't care about Moore's extremism and they're endorsing the right-wing Alabaman anyway. As the Washington Post reported, there are, however, some limited exceptions.

Two days after announcing his retirement and denouncing Trumpism from the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) set a different trend -- he became the sole Republican senator opposed to Roy Moore's Senate bid in Alabama.Collared in the Dirksen Building by NBC's Frank Thorp, Flake, who does not do many hallway interviews, said that Moore represented exactly the politics that had ruined his party."A guy who says that a Muslim member of Congress shouldn't be able to serve?" Flake said. "That's not right."

According to The Hill, Flake isn't entirely alone. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) appeared on a podcast this week and also blasted Moore's contention that religious minorities he doesn't like should be barred from serving in Congress.

"You can't have people running for office -- I don't know the particulars of what Moore has said -- but as it's been reported, you can't have people running for office saying that being a Muslim would be a disqualification for being in Congress," Sasse said. "The Constitution is pretty dang clear about not having a religious litmus test."

I suppose it's unrealistic to think current Republican officeholders would publicly endorse a Democratic Senate nominee, so this week's comments from Flake and Sasse are about as far as GOP senators are going to go. In theory, though, the next step should be added pressure on other Senate Republicans who no doubt realize that concerns about Moore's fitness for office are grounded in fact.

We're talking about the most radical major-party nominee in a generation -- someone who believes he can ignore court rulings he disagrees with, who's argued that Americans were to blame for 9/11, and who's insisted that pre-school is a Nazi-like institution for brainwashing children into being liberal.

So where's Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? Why hasn't Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) spoken up? Does Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) really believe Roy Moore would make a welcome addition to the Senate Republican conference?

Jeff Flake believes Moore's radicalism is "not right." Are there are other Republicans prepared to admit Flake's assessment is correct?