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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/CNN) – One of the most high-profile and controversial Senate races in recent memory will finally have a winner on Tuesday.
The race to the finish for Alabama’s special Senate election was a tale of two campaigns on Sunday, with Democratic candidate Doug Jones barnstorming the state while his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, largely stayed quiet.
Jones capped a busy day with remarks at Progressive Union Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, saying he believed the women who have accused Moore of pursuing relationships when they were teens and he was in his 30s. Those allegations include accusations that Moore sexually abused a 14-year-old and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old. Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“Just like Senator Shelby today, I believe those women in Etowah County,” Jones said, referring to Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby’s remarks Sunday morning slamming Moore on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is just like Senator Shelby said today. When there is smoke there is fire, and there’s some fire in there.
“And let me tell ya, I am so proud of those women, and so many others, because, from the very beginning, we have talked about women’s issues that are important for the women of this state,” Jones said. “It is something because I have got a mother that’s 86 years old, I’ve got a strong wife, I’ve got a daughter and I’ve got two granddaughters. And those issues are important to me because they hit home to me. And I want to make sure that when my granddaughters grow up, they don’t have to endure the kind of thing that those girls in Etowah County did and then sit silent for 30 or 40 years. I want to make sure that we send a message of who we are and what we are, because we are much better than that.”
Moore stayed off the campaign trail, but TV viewers did hear from him through a pre-taped interview on “The Voice of Alabama Politics” show Sunday morning, in which he again denied the allegations against him.
“I did not know them,” Moore said of his accusers. “I had no encounter with them. I never molested anyone, and for them to say that, I don’t know why they’re saying it, but it’s not true.”
Jones took note of Moore’s lack of campaign appearances.
“Folks, he is in hiding,” Jones said in Huntsville on Sunday night. “I want you to think about something. You have all seen me up here. I have been up here a bunch. I have been in Selma. I have been in Mobile. I’ve been in shows, I’ve been in Birmingham, I’ve been in Cullman. Let me ask you this question: What are you going to think about a United States Senator that stays in hiding. He won’t even talk to the media. He won’t come talk to his constituents. Y’all had enough with federal officials up here. He won’t do town hall meetings. We need somebody to meet folks.”
On Saturday and Sunday, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker appeared with Jones in Montgomery and Birmingham to stump for the candidate, who is seeking to galvanize African-American and other Democratic voters to go to the polls on Tuesday.
“We have got to find a way to come together, and we need leaders that are not going to divide us, and separate us, and cut us up, and dissect us, and stand in judgment over some, and lord over others,” Booker said at a canvass kick-off in Birmingham on Sunday. “We need someone that is going to remind us of the calling of patriotism, the calling to love, and so this is the moment now. There are consequential moments in our American history, and this is one of them.
“Will we now raise up the echoes and let people know that democracy is not a spectator sport?” Booker continued. “You can’t sit on the sidelines and cheer for teams to win. You got to get into the game. It is a full-contact, participatory endeavor. We got to remind people that the opposite of justice is not injustice. It is inaction, indifference, it is silence. We’ve got to remind people faith without works is dead,”
The New Jersey Democrat also tweeted out his support for Jones on Sunday.
“With @GDouglasJones, visiting churches in Birmingham this morning,” Booker wrote. “So grateful for the rousing greeting we are receiving at every church. The energy is so uplifting. Alabama votes on Tuesday.”
Former Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick also appeared with Jones over the weekend at Outside Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma.
Moore has gained the endorsement of President Donald Trump, who recorded a robocall in an attempt to boost the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice’s chances in what has become a photo-finish race.
“We need Roy voting for us,” Trump says in the call. “I am stopping illegal immigration and crime. We’re building a stronger military and protecting the Second Amendment and our pro-life values. But if Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold. We already know Democrat Doug Jones is a puppet of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and he will vote with the Washington liberals every single time.”
Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Alabama Senate race, imploring voters to go to the polls Tuesday to reject the candidacy of Roy Moore as part of an aggressive effort by Democrats to try and counter President Donald Trump’s full-throated endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate.
“This one’s serious,” Obama says in the call. “You can’t sit it out.”
Two Democratic officials familiar with the Alabama race tell CNN that Obama recorded the phone message in recent days, at the very time Trump stepped up his own involvement in the campaign with a recorded message. Obama does not mention Moore by name.
“Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,” Obama says. “Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.”
Obama’s message to voters — intended to specifically reach black voters whose turnout is critical for Democratic candidate Jones — comes on the eve of a special election that has drawn extraordinary national attention and divided the Republican Party over whether sexual allegations against Moore make him unfit for office.
It’s an open question whether Obama or Trump can wield any influence on the race, but the dueling presidential messages underscore the fiercely competitive nature of the Senate contest that has taken on outsized proportions.
Moore is also facing opposition from high-profile Republicans over the allegations against him, including Shelby, who said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning that he couldn’t and didn’t vote for Moore, choosing a write-in candidate instead.
“(W)e call it a tipping point,” Shelby told anchor Jake Tapper. “I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip — when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”
A senior Jones campaign official told CNN on Sunday that the campaign will roll out a statewide robocall Monday quoting Shelby’s emphatic criticisms of Moore on the program.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report)