Politics

‘Do it for Alabama!’ — Biden Campaigns for Doug Jones

Former vice president speaks at Birmingham rally

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., encouraged voters to think of their state when casting their ballots in the Alabama Senate race, despite the national attention on the election.

Biden traveled Tuesday to Birmingham, Ala., to speak at a rally for Democrat Doug Jones, who is running to fill former Sen. Jeff Sessions’ seat. Jones faces former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in the Dec. 12 special election.

“I’m asking you, although when he wins this race it will send ripples throughout the country, I want to be clear. Don’t do it for that reason. Do it for Alabama,” Biden told the crowd gathered at the convention center.

National Democrats are monitoring the race to determine what resources to spend in the Yellowhammer State. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

But some Democrats have argued that winning Alabama is not an impossible feat, given Jones’ strengths and Moore’s controversies.

Moore was twice removed from the bench, first for defying a federal order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse. He was removed again for ordering state judges not to comply with the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Jones referenced those instances at the rally, telling the crowd, “I want to make sure that when I’m elected, I serve out my term.”

Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has been praised by Democrats as a formidable candidate. As a prosecutor, he helped convict members of the Ku Klux Klan responsible for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which killed four young girls.

Jones and Biden referenced his work as a prosecutor, and Jones tied it to his Senate campaign.

“They told me in 1997 when I became U.S. Attorney that prosecuting a case that’s almost 40 years old is a long shot,” Jones said. “But you know what, when you are on the right side of history and the right side of justice, you can do anything.”

Biden thanked the families of some of the bombing victims who were attending Jones’ rally.

Jones said his campaign was on the right side of history, fairness and justice.

“I can tell you, Roy Moore is not on the right side of any of those issues,” Jones said.

Biden did not directly mention Moore, though he said after a discussion of the importance of consensus, “We don’t need another extremist up in the United States Senate.”

Biden, who served in the Senate before joining former President Barack Obama’s administration, said he had known Jones for years. Jones worked for former Alabama Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin before becoming a federal prosecutor.

Some Democrats in the state have pointed out that the special election is for Heflin’s former seat, and they want to take it back.

Jones has garnered support from Biden and other Democratic leaders, including civil rights icon, Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. Whether national Democrats will pour resources into the state remains to be seen, but Jones has been raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since Moore became the GOP nominee last week.

Jones indicated shortly after Moore’s election that he would stress his values, experience and character in a race against Moore, and Biden furthered that message Tuesday.

“I can count on two hands the people that I’ve campaigned for that have as much integrity, as much courage, and a sense of honor and duty that Doug does,” Biden said.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.