BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Roy Moore's Democratic opponent in the Alabama Senate race said Tuesday that he did his part as a prosecutor to ensure that "men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate."
Democratic senatorial candidate Doug Jones speaks at a news conference, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, in Dolomite, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Doug Jones' comments to supporters in Birmingham came hours before Moore was scheduled to appear at a rally with former White House strategist Steve Bannon and as new evidence of sexual misconduct surfaces against the Republican candidate.
Jones said Moore was an embarrassment to the state and would be a "disaster" for Alabama in Washington.
Referring to his own record as a former federal prosecutor, Jones said, "I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate."
Two women have accused Moore of sexually assaulting or molesting them decades ago, when they were 14 and 16 and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. At least five other women have said he pursued romantic relationships with them around the same time, when they were 16 to 18.
Moore has vehemently denied the misconduct allegations and said he never dated "underage" women, but he has not defined what age he means by that. He also said he always got their mothers' consent.
Moore hopes to get a boost from Tuesday night's rally with the populist firebrand Bannon, who is expected to attack the Washington Republicans who have said they believe Moore's accusers.
Bannon's appearance comes a week before the election as Moore and his allies fight to energize their supporters after a brief but ugly general election campaign. Many Washington Republicans have called on Moore to quit the race. Pushing back, President Donald Trump formally endorsed Moore on Monday and directed the Republican National Committee to send some assistance after withdrawing roughly a dozen staffers last month.
Bannon and Moore are scheduled to appear together in a dirt-floor barn deep in southwestern Alabama along the Mississippi border. It's the same venue where Bannon appeared with Moore earlier in the year before he clinched the GOP nomination.
"For us, it's big," John Giles, who leads a pro-Moore super PAC, said of Bannon's visit. "The only thing bigger than Bannon is Trump."
Since being forced out of the White House in August, Bannon has resumed his leadership role at the pro-Trump Breitbart News and launched a broad campaign to take down establishment Republicans across the nation. He has vowed to defeat several Republican Senate incumbents in next year's midterm elections because, in his view, they haven't done enough to support Trump's policies.
In Alabama, Bannon's presence has less to do with Moore's religious convictions than with their shared disdain for Washington Republicans. Moore's brand is defined by his devotion to Christian values, but, like Bannon, he has promised to stand up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican who is deeply unpopular among many diehard Trump supporters.
While hardly a household name, Bannon will be welcomed in Alabama by a Moore campaign that has been aggressively shunned by his party's biggest stars as the Dec. 12 special election approaches.
"Does Steve have 90 percent name ID? No. But people who like Steve are very passionate about liking Steve," said Andy Surabian, senior adviser to the outside group Great America Alliance, which sometimes works with Bannon. "What Steve does is he motivates base voters to turn out, which is the entire key to this election."
On Monday, the Washington Post reported new evidence of Moore's pursuit of teenage girls decades ago. Moore has denied knowing any of the women, but one of them, Debbie Wesson Gibson, shared with the newspaper a card she said was signed by Moore congratulating her on graduating from high school.
Meanwhile, Moore continues to seek outside help in his bid to take the Senate seat once held by Republican Jeff Sessions, now U.S. attorney general, and represent Alabama in Washington through 2020. Although the polls have showed a narrowing contest with Jones, Alabama is a strongly Republican state and Democrats generally have little chance there.
During his speech Tuesday, Jones cited Moore's record, which includes being twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics. He said Moore had never "served our state with honor."
"He has never, ever been a source of pride for the people of this state, only a source of embarrassment," Jones said.
As Moore's campaign struggles to attract donations from traditional GOP donors, Great America Alliance invested $150,000 in a final-week advertising campaign that attacks Jones for his positions on abortion and immigration, among others.
The White House said Trump would not campaign in Alabama on Moore's behalf, but he is scheduled to headline a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday, less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Alabama border.
AP FACT CHECK: Moore's flip on whether he knows accusers
By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has given contradictory accounts about knowing women who say Moore pursued them romantically when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, in Fairhope, Ala. In the face of sexual misconduct allegations, Moore's U.S. Senate campaign has been punctuated by tense moments and long stretches without public appearances. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat in the Dec. 12 election. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Moore's Senate campaign has been roiled by accusations that he sexually assaulted a 14 and a 16 year old when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s and dated, or tried to date, several other women between the ages of 16 and 18. Moore has denied the assault and misconduct allegations, but made conflicting statements about dating teens as a man in his 30s.
WHAT MOORE INITIALLY SAID:
In a Nov. 10 radio interview with Sean Hannity, Moore said he remembered two of the women, Debbie Wesson Gibson and Gloria Deason, who were 17 and 18 at the time. He said he remembered both of them but didn't remember dating them. Asked by Hannity if he generally dated teenagers as a man in his 30s, Moore replied. "Not generally, no. If I did, you know, I'm not going to dispute anything, but I don't remember anything like that." Asked if he remembered having a girlfriend in her late teens while he was in his 30s, Moore replied, "I don't remember that, and I don't remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother."
WHAT MOORE SAID LAST WEEK:
Moore said twice last week in campaign stops that he did not "know any of these women." He did not list their names but at one stop said their faces were appearing on his opponent's advertisements. Democrat Doug Jones has run advertisements with the photos of all of the women who have accused Moore.
"These allegations are completely false. They're malicious. Specially, I do not know any of these women, nor have I ever engaged in sexual misconduct with anyone," Moore said in a campaign stop in Henagar, Alabama.
At a campaign stop in Theodore, Moore said, "Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone."
WHAT HIS ACCUSERS SAID:
The Washington Post , which reported the initial allegations against Moore, said Gibson has a card she said Moore signed congratulating her on graduating high school. Gibson said she dated Moore when she was 17 and that he asked her out after speaking to her high school civics class. Gibson showed a handwritten notation in a memory book about their first date in 1981 before she graduated high school. She wrote they went to Catfish Cabin and that it was "great," underlined twice.
"He called me a liar," Gibson, who had campaigned for Moore during one of his early runs for local judge, told the newspaper. "Roy Moore made an egregious mistake to attack that one thing — my integrity."
Paula Corbia, an attorney representing Deason, who said Moore dated her when she was 18, told the newspaper that Deason has vivid memories of dating Moore, down to restaurants they went to and a dress she wore.
Moore has consistently denied an accusation by Leigh Corfman, who said Moore touched her sexually when she was 14.
Corfman in a letter provided to The Associated Press and al.com, responded to Moore's denials and wrote that Moore should "stop calling me a liar and attacking my character."
"I am telling the truth, and you should have the decency to admit it and apologize," Corfman wrote.
WHAT HIS CAMPAIGN SAID:
A campaign spokeswoman said Monday that when Moore said "any" he only meant the women who had accused him of sexual assault.
"Roy Moore already said he knew Debbie Wesson and her family but did not recall any formal dates. Furthermore, when he stated that he did not know any of the women, he was referring to those who accused him of sexual assault," Moore spokeswoman Hannah Ford said.
Moore had previously issued an open letter to Hannity saying he never dated "underage" women. The letter did not define underage. A campaign spokeswoman declined to clarify, saying the judge's words spoke for themselves.
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