Associated Press

Nov 28, 6:56 PM EST

Jones: Moore trying to 'dodge' real issues in Senate race.


AP Photo
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

NORTHPORT, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama Democrat Doug Jones said Tuesday that Republican Roy Moore is trying to "dodge" a discussion of his record and the accusations against him in their U.S. Senate race.

Jones, speaking with reporters after touring a Northport hospital, said he is the only candidate in the race talking about issues. Moore has limited his campaign appearances and largely avoided interactions with reporters since he was accused of committing sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was a prosecutor in his 30s, accusations he has denied.

"I still don't see him talking about the issues. He wants to call names. He wants to divert attention from the real serious issues that he and his campaign face. They don't want Judge Moore's record to be examined very closely. ... They want to dodge that," Jones said.

Jones said, "people see through that" and noted Sen. Richard Shelby's decision not to vote for Moore.

A spokeswoman for Shelby confirmed that the state's senior Republican senator voted for a write-in candidate instead of Moore. She didn't identify Shelby's choice. Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby has launched a write-in campaign for the seat.

Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead, in an emailed response, said voters are familiar with Moore's record and called the allegations fictional.

"Where has Doug Jones been for 40 years? The people of Alabama are familiar with Roy Moore's 40-year record of integrity and no-nonsense commitment to fighting for issues that Alabamians care about," Armistead said.

Two women have accused Moore of sexually assaulting or molesting them decades ago, when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. At least five others have said he pursued romantic relationships when they were 16 to 18. Moore has vehemently denied the misconduct allegations and said he never dated "underage" women, but he has not defined what age he means by that. He also said he always got their mothers' consent.

Jones is attempting to be the first Democrat from Alabama to serve in the Senate in two decades. In Northport, he said the state's health care infrastructure is crumbling as rural hospitals close and accused Congress of playing "political football" with the health of 150,000 children in Alabama.

"We are losing so many of the rural health care facilities in this state because of the lack of Medicaid funding. We've lost four or five in the last year," Jones said.

Moore got a standing ovation Monday at his first publicized campaign appearance in more than a week, but didn't take questions from the media or the crowd at a rally in Henagar. He has appearances scheduled later this week at two Alabama churches.

Moore signaled at the rally that he intends to take a more aggressive approach in the days to come and criticized Jones as out of step on social issues with many Alabamians.

"I'm a fighter," Moore said. "I don't hesitate to say that. That's what I did all my life."

Meanwhile, more than 70 people opposed to Moore attended a rally on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, an event not affiliated with the Jones campaign.

Evelyn Tackett of Montgomery wore a button with a picture of a raven and the slogan "NeverMoore."

"I'm embarrassed for Alabama," Tackett said. "He's intellectually and morally unfit to serve as a United States senator."

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