With one week to go until Election Day, Democrat Doug Jones issued his strongest condemnation to date of his Republican opponent Roy Moore, calling him an embarrassment to Alabama.
"I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail, and not to the United States Senate," Jones said in a speech to supporters in Birmingham Tuesday.
Jones, a former US attorney for Alabama, successfully prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan responsible for the 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls, something he has highlighted throughout his campaign.
Moore has been accused by several women of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers. One alleged he made unwanted sexual advances when she was 14; another alleged sexual assault.
Moore, Jones said Tuesday, "has never been a source of pride for the people of this state, only a source of embarrassment." He added that as senator, Moore could prove to be a disincentive for businesses considering moving to Alabama.
It was a rare scripted speech for Jones' campaign, which has tended more toward informal remarks by the candidate.
One week from Election Day, the comments formed a sort of closing argument.
During the speech, Jones also mocked Moore, who once appeared at a campaign rally wearing a leather vest and a cowboy hat before pulling a gun out on a stage.
"Despite the silly name-calling, my record as a prosecutor speaks for itself and I am a supporter of the Second Amendment. When you see me with a gun, I will be climbing into a deer stand or a turkey blind, not prancing around on a stage in cowboy outfit," he said.
Moore has repeatedly attacked Jones for his stance on gun rights during the campaign, a potent line in a deeply Republican state where President Trump won 62% of the vote last year.
Jones initially avoided bringing up the allegations against Moore once they surfaced, but he has more willingly campaigned on them over the last two weeks. He has previously said he believed the accusers, and he has run ads highlighting the allegations. One ad includes photos of the women who have leveled allegations against Moore.
"Will we make their abuser a US senator?" a narrator asks at the end. In another, the campaign highlights statements from Republicans expressing their belief in the women who have accused Moore.
Republican senators have made no secret of their distaste for the man who could become their colleague in the near future, even if they share a party affiliation. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the Senate Republican campaign arm, has called for Moore to be expelled from the body if elected. Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior senator from Alabama, says he wrote in another name on his absentee ballot to avoid voting for Moore. The Republican National Committee, however, decided Monday to reenter the Alabama race to support Moore, after pulling out once the allegations first arose.
Hours after leaving a meeting at the White House with Trump, who endorsed Moore this week, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake tweeted a photo of a personal check donation to Jones' campaign. "Country over Party," Flake, who is retiring from the Senate next year, wrote in the tweet.
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
Contact Talal Ansari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexis Levinson is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Alexis Levinson at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.