Some Senators shying away from comparisons between Al Franken and Roy Moore

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference where members of congress introduce legislation to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, on Capitol Hill, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington.PlayAndrew Harnik/AP
WATCH Senators react to Franken's decision to resign over sexual misconduct allegations

After Democrats called for — and got — Sen. Al Franken's resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations, Republicans are now being forced to face the question of why the Republican-backed Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama isn't being held to the same standard.

"I of all people am aware that there is some irony – the fact that I am leaving while a man bragged on tape about his history of the sexual assault sits in the oval office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the senate with the full support of his party," Franken said in announcing his resignation Thursday. He sought to distinguish between his own response to accusations and those against Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who also face and dispute claims of sexual misconduct.

In conversations with ABC News, a number of Republicans today shied away from the comparison between Franken and Moore, who both face multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Some suggested to ABC News that if Moore wins, he should be dealt with by the Senate Ethics Committee, not pushed out.

"[Moore has] denied the allegations, he deserves due process," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. "If he gets elected, he’ll get due process. If he wants to resign, that’s up to him. I want him to step aside. I wish he were not our nominee. I think if he wins, he’s the gift that keeps on giving for democrats."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also deferred to the ethics committee, if it comes to that.

"If he wins, I don’t know how that’s gonna pan out, that’ll be up to the Ethics Committee," Hatch said, declining to answer whether he sees a double standard here.

Asked if he's concerned it looks like the parties are operating by different standards when it comes to sexual misconduct, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., responded with a simple "no."

"Franken didn’t have to resign," Cassidy argued. "There was clearly no due process. But when you have everybody coming after you, that’s what he chose to do. But, but that’s really up to Franken, and up to Moore, not up to the parties."

While many Republicans — and GOP leaders — were quick to call for Moore to bow out of the race initially, now, with Moore digging in and just days before his election, some are increasingly saying it's up to the Alabama voters. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says, if elected, Moore would likely face an immediate investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., refused to equate the two senators because he said there is no evidence that Roy Moore did anything wrong.

"There’s a big difference you guys are going to have to acknowledge sooner or later, that is Roy Moore has denied these things. There’s not evidence. In fact, the people in Alabama, apparently most of them agree with him," Inhofe told reporters, insisting the photo of Franken that an accuser said shows him groping her during a USO trip to Afghanistan before he was an elected official amounted to clear evidence of his wrongdoing.

With the Alabama election just days away, and the midterms fast approaching, Democrats are unlikely to drop the issue.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., summed up her party's stance, saying their Republican colleagues should look at sexual harassment situation in a more "responsible" way.

"I think most people looking at this in the White House, to the Senate, to the House -- look at it a little differently," Stabenow said.