U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones in a speech Tuesday didn’t mince words about his opponent and the ramifications of electing a man embroiled in a scandal, while also stressing a need for unification, civility and a willingness to work across the political aisle to move Alabama forward.
The Democratic Senate hopeful was in Birmingham for a campaign stop at Pepper Place on Southside. Jones told the crowd of about 100 supporters that electing former state Chief Justice Roy Moore could have dire consequences for the state’s business climate as it tries to lure automobile makers Toyota-Mazda. Alabama and North Carolina are in the running for a $1.6 billion plant that would create about 4,000 new jobs.
Jones questioned whether Alabama would be the winner of the plant if Moore won the Senate seat or if the automobile giants would simply “cross Alabama off their list and move on to another state.”
“If we are honest with ourselves, we all know the answer: Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a disaster for business in Alabama,” Jones said.
Calls Moore an ‘Embarrassment’
With just one week to go before the Dec. 12 special election and fueled by an urgency to pull voters from both sides of the aisle, Jones cut through the niceties and called out Moore as being an embarrassment to the state.
“He has spent his entire life using whatever position he was in to create conflict and division in order to promote his personal agenda,” Jones said. “Roy Moore has never ever 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.”
Supporters cheered Jones on as he offered his support again to the nine women who have come forward with allegations that Moore had inappropriate sexual contact with them as minors.
“By any objective standard … it is crystal clear that these women are telling the truth and Roy Moore is not,” Jones said.
‘Extreme Partisanship’ Blocks Solutions
Jones did spend some time talking about the issues that matter to him — health care, education and business development in the state. He expressed concerns about the dysfunction that has led to the endangerment of the Child Health Insurance Program and called out the underperformance of public school systems around the state as a serious problem that could impact the state’s ability to attract new businesses seeking skilled, educated workers.
Jones said it will take politicians working together to make real improvements to health care and education. He said he is about rising above the “extreme partisanship” that has hampered the government over the past year, and he would be willing to work with Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and others to find common ground.
“There is not much relief because of the perpetual dysfunction in Washington DC,” he said. “The extreme partisanship that has emerged over the last few years has made it nearly impossible for anyone to get anything done for the betterment of our nation or for the benefit of its people.”
Jones said that, despite the sharp divide among his supporters and those for Moore, residents in the state “have more in common than we have that divide us.”
Joan Burroughs of Huffman said she came out to show support for Jones because she believes that he represents a chance to make positive changes in a government that is divided.
“We need real balance and resolution to the issues that we are facing,” she said.
David Whiteside, a 37-year-old Birmingham resident, said he came to hear Jones speak Tuesday because he believes the outcome of the election is important to the state. The nonprofit worker said his main concern is the issue of separation of church and state — a common concern for many who have watched religious beliefs take center stage in a political race.
“Whether you are Christian or not, the separation of church and state is very important,” he said.