Politics

Moore Absent on the Alabama Senate Campaign Trail

Days before election, opponent has held events throughout the state

Democratic candidate for Senate Doug Jones, center, accompanied by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., shakes hands with supporters as he arrives for a canvas kickoff rally at his campaign field office in Birmingham, Alabama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore is nowhere to be found.

The embattled GOP nominee in the Alabama Senate race has not made a public appearance since Tuesday, though Moore did sit down for an interview on a local Alabama political program. Meanwhile, his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, has traveled to multiple parts of the state in the weekend leading up to the Dec. 12 special election.

Moore’s absence from the campaign trail means he can avoid questions from constituents and reporters (and video of him refusing to answer questions) about multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including assault, that have dogged his campaign.

Moore was accused of inappropriate advances with women when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has denied any wrongdoing.

Watch: In Alabama Race, Jones Has Funding, Moore Has Trump, Bannon Support

Moore told “The Voice of Alabama Politics” on Sunday that he did not know the women who accused him of sexual misconduct nor do anything wrong.

“I had no encounter with them,” he said in the nearly 30-minute interview. “I never molested anyone, and for them to say that, I don't know why they’re saying it, but it’s not true.”

Moore initially told Fox News' Sean Hannity on his radio program that he did know two of the women who said they dated Moore when they were in their late teens, but Moore said he did not have relationships with them. He later said at a campaign event that he did not know any of the women.

The Moore campaign’s spokeswoman clarified told the Associated Press that Moore meant he did not know the women accusing him of sexual assault. 

On Sunday Moore campaign strategist Dean Young did appear on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday to discuss the race, and was asked about the allegations.

“We believe Judge Moore has been telling the truth the entire time,” said Young. He called the allegations a “fake narrative.”

Moore campaign officials did appear at an event Friday that was billed as a press conference in Montgomery, to discuss news that one of Moore’s accusers said she had made notes around Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. They did not take any questions from the press.

Jones has used Moore’s absence to draw a distinction between how he and Moore would conduct themselves as senators.

“What kind of senator hides from his constituencies when he’s running for office?” Jones said to reporters outside his campaign field office in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon. “What kind of public servant hides and goes only into enclaves and doesn’t address the media?”

Jones rallied supporters at a packed field office in downtown Birmingham, along with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell. Booker also joined Jones on the campaign trail Saturday.

The Moore campaign took a swipe at Jones for bringing in Booker, when asked to respond to Jones’ criticism of Moore’s absence on Sunday.

“Doug Jones has been running around the state with Cory Booker lying about Roy Moore and calling on President [Donald] Trump to resign,” said Moore campaign adviser Brett Doster. (Booker has suggested the president should resign due to sexual harassment allegations, but Jones has not).

“We’ve got our strategy. Doug Jones has his,” Doster said in a text message. “We’ll see which one Alabama likes better on Tuesday.”

Doster said Moore has been active since Tuesday. He said Moore met with builders and contractors on Wednesday and attended an grass-roots “organizational meeting” on Thursday. Doster said the meetings were not open to the public.

When asked about what Moore has been doing over the weekend, Doster said Moore has been making calls, “living on the phones” on  Friday and Saturday. 

Moore did not attend services Sunday morning at his home church in Gallant, Alabama, or at a church that members of his family reportedly attend about 12 miles southeast in Rainbow City.

Rev. Tom Brown, who leads Gallant First Baptist, said he was not surprised Moore did not attend the Sunday morning service. 

“Would you all show up with this?” Brown said, referencing group of news cameras outside the church. “I wouldn’t show up with this.”

Brown said he had not seen Moore in person since the allegations first published in the Washington Post four weeks ago, but he has spoken with Moore over the phone. 

Moore will attend a “Drain the Swamp” rally in the southeast corner of the state Monday night. Former White House adviser Steve Bannon and Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert are also expected to attend.

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