HENAGAR, Ala. — Republican Roy Moore, his Senate bid stung by allegations of sexual misconduct, is seeking to steer the Alabama race to hot-button social issues highlighted by his opposition to abortion.
Newly back on the campaign trail since the uproar the accusations caused, Moore has hammered Democratic rival Doug Jones by juxtaposing Moore’s desire to one day outlaw abortion altogether against Jones’ support of abortion rights. Moore’s campaign even suggested on social media that Jones, if elected, would seek to put another pro-abortion justice on the Supreme Court.
“#Abortion Jones will give us another #ProChoice, pro-abortion #RuthBaderGinsburg style judge on SCOTUS. We can’t let that happen,” Moore’s campaign tweeted Tuesday.
Democrats often face long odds in this conservative Southern state where opposition to abortion cuts across socioeconomic, gender and racial lines. Meanwhile, Moore’s campaign has been hit by accusations of sexual misconduct, decades ago, made by women who were then teenagers. The Republican has vehemently denied the accusations.
The state’s voters next year will decide on a proposal that would add anti-abortion language to the Alabama Constitution.
Jones has said he is pro-abortion rights. He supports keeping the law as it is.
“I believe the decision she makes should be hers that she can make alone or in consultation with her family, her physician, her faith. That’s what I think. I don’t think I should be making that decision for her. I doggone don’t believe Roy Moore should be making that decision for her,” Jones said.
At a recent campaign rally in north Alabama, Moore drew loud applause when he said wants to reverse the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“As far as abortion, I will not fund Planned Parenthood and I will work to overturn Roe versus Wade,” Moore said of that case.
Moore, who has long had backing from a wide swath of the state’s evangelical voters, built a following over his religious-themed political stances. Those have included opposition to same-sex marriage, support for displaying the Ten Commandments in public and his belief that the U.S. Constitution is founded on God.
After taking a hiatus from campaigning after the allegations Moore is now planning a series of stops at churches this week, aimed at rallying religious-minded supporters ahead of the Dec. 12 election.
His opponent Jones called that a bid by Moore to divert attention from the sexual misconduct allegations.
“You expect them to do something like that to try to divert attention from the very serious allegations that he’s facing and the very credible statements from the women” who came forward, Jones said earlier this month.
At a rally earlier this month, Moore’s wife Kayla called Jones an “ultra-liberal” politician “who is for full-term abortion” — the latter a reference one political fact-checking website, Politifact, called “disconnected” from reality.
“The law for decades has been that late-term procedures are only acceptable when there is a medical necessity. That has been the law for decades,” Jones has said.
Political observers note that Jones must peel away some Republican support from Moore for a win, but that the abortion issue is one Republicans have long used successfully in campaigns in Alabama.
“He is getting killed on the abortion issue,” said David Mowery, an Alabama-based political consultant, speaking of Jones.
Carol Summers, who traveled to hear Moore speak in Henagar, Alabama, said opposition to abortion was a major reason she votes Republican and will vote for Moore.
She said some of the accusations against Moore “may be true” but that it was also a long time ago.
“Democrats are for abortion, and I don’t believe in that in all,” Summers said.