With less than three weeks to go until Alabama’s U.S. Senate election, rivals Roy Moore and Doug Jones made their latest pitches to voters Tuesday night.
Republican Moore appeared on a popular television program in the state, while Democrat Jones spoke at a church in Huntsville.
Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump weighed in on the race, telling reporters that Jones was too “liberal” for the job, and would be a “bad” choice for a variety of reasons.
Moore and Jones are vying for the Senate seat that was long held by current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The race has drawn national attention, in part because of sexual misconduct allegations made against Moore by several women.
But on Tuesday night Moore once again defended himself from the accusations.
‘I don’t know them’
“I don’t know them. I’ve never known them,” Moore told host Scott Beason about his accusers. “I’ve never met them to my knowledge. I later found out that Beverly Nelson had a case in front of my court in 1999. But I don’t know them. I never spoken to them. And certainly I didn’t do anything to them.”
Moore said he was considering legal action against the Washington Post, the first organization to publish many of the accusations.
Moore, a longtime Alabama state Supreme Court judge, went on to draw distinctions between himself and Jones, a former U.S. attorney.
“If you ask me the difference between myself and Doug Jones? Everything,” Moore said. “I want a wall. I wanna stop illegal aliens.”
“There’s just so many differences,” Moore continued. “I believe in rights. They believe in transgender rights.
“We’re talking about women’s rights here. Who stands for women’s rights? Those who stand for transgender rights, same-sex marriage? That’s undermining women.
“And that’s violating children’s rights. And I believe in those things. I believe in traditional values that Alabamians stand for. And I’ll take these to Washington, D.C., and I’ll stand for them.”
‘Are you gonna be afraid?’
Meanwhile, Jones – perhaps rattled by Trump’s comments earlier in the day – seemed to sharpen his rhetoric against Moore.
Jones urged the audience at First Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville to trust their own judgment in deciding which candidate to support.
“Look past R’s and D’s,” Jones told attendees, advising them not to listen to Moore’s supporters. “Are you gonna be afraid of what they’re gonna say?”
Jones joked that Moore, who was twice removed from his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court, can’t seem to hold a job.
“Twice, he violated his oath,” Jones said. “Now, you know, down here, we have that saying: ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ I don’t know what about a third one. It never gets that far.”
In a state where it’s difficult for a Democrat to get elected, Jones also made sure to praise Ronald Reagan, a GOP icon who was popular with many Democrats as well.
“You gotta give Ronald Reagan a lot of credit,” Jones said.
“Well, Bill Clinton did a good job too,” he added, appealing to the loyal Democrats in the audience.
But Jones asserted that party loyalty wasn’t justifiable in the case of Moore, given the accusations that women have made against him.
Some Republicans, he said, “are simply saying, ‘Oh pay no attention to the allegations against Roy Moore, he’s a Republican. By God, we’ll vote for him anyway.’
“That is wrong, people,” Jones said. “That is wrong.”
‘Don’t need a liberal’
The Democrat spoke just hours after Trump said outside the White House that Jones was a weak candidate for the job.
“I can tell you one thing for sure,” Trump told reporters. “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat [Doug] Jones … We do not need somebody that’s going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.”
Trump also defended Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct.
“Look, he denies it,” Trump told reporters. “He says it didn’t happen, and you know, you have to listen to him also.
“Forty years is a long time,” the president added, noting how far back the allegations against Moore go.
Alabama voters will head to the polls Dec. 12. The Senate seat is currently held by Republican Luther Strange, who was appointed to complete Sessions’ term after Sessions joined the Trump administration.
Strange sought to win the seat outright, but Moore defeated him in the state’s Republican primary.
Fox News’ Dan Gallo and Sam Chamberlain contributed to this report.