Bannon Campaigns For Roy Moore
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
The Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is trying to rebound from allegations of sexual assault involving teenagers from decades ago. With less than a week until the election, polls show him locked in a tight race with Democrat Doug Jones. Moore got a boost with an endorsement from President Trump this week. And former White House strategist Steve Bannon campaigned alongside him at a rally in South Alabama last night. NPR's Debbie Elliott was there, and she joins us. Hey there, Debbie.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Morning.
GREENE: So what is Roy Moore saying at this point as we get to just days before voters actually go to the polls?
ELLIOTT: Well, something that struck me was how Moore was really trying to align himself with the president. He had a favorable crowd at this packed-out barn in south Alabama last night. Many folks had on their make-America-great gear. Moore says he's part of this whole movement that put Trump in the White House in the first place and that this race is a bellwether.
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ROY MOORE: It's the first Senate race since Donald Trump was elected. And it means something special. It means that we're going to see if the people of Alabama will support the president and support his agenda in Washington by electing somebody that's not part of the establishment there.
ELLIOTT: You know, he said, David, they don't want me up there. I know that. I think they're afraid I'm going to take Alabama values to Washington.
GREENE: And one thing to note is that President Trump supported his opponent back in the primary, right? So this is extraordinary that he's talking as if he's - they're big allies now. He's - so Moore is saying that they're afraid he's going to bring Alabama values to Washington. What does that mean?
ELLIOTT: You know, Roy Moore has made a political career on very real - religious conservative positions. As a chief justice of the Supreme Court, he was removed from office twice over such issues - once over same-sex marriage and once over a giant Ten Commandments monument that he wouldn't take down.
He has outlined a host of those issues throughout this campaign and continued last night talking about - abortion, preventing transgender people from serving in the military and getting back to God, restoring the morality of this country. He very much paints his candidacy as ordained by God and that he is in this spiritual battle. He didn't say a lot about the allegations. He's leaving that up to sort of his surrogates to defend that, but he has denied them before.
GREENE: OK. So then you have Steve Bannon showing up at this rally last night. How does he fit? How does he fit into the picture?
ELLIOTT: Well, he was there to fight. You know, it was gloves off in his war with the Republican establishment. He said GOP leaders want to destroy Roy Moore so they can silence you - you know, the silent majority and the, quote, "deplorables." He's singled out, in particular, the people who have denounced Moore - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and even Mitt Romney, who this week had talked about Moore being a stain on the GOP and that no majority is worth losing honor and integrity. Bannon hit back pretty hard on Romney, you know, painting him as a draft dodger along with his children.
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STEVE BANNON: Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA.
GREENE: Wow just listening to that, Deb - I mean, it's a reminder that this really has amplified a divide in the Republican Party.
ELLIOTT: Right, it has. And, you know, that's playing well with some Alabama voters. They don't like people in Washington telling them what to do. Here's a Tuskegee man I spoke with earlier. He is a police officer, J.W. Knight. He says national Republicans should stay out of it.
J W KNIGHT: Mitch needs to shut up. That's the federal government trying to put their hands in our state. I mean, we fought a war for that in the 1860s for, you know, one of those reasons - also for slavery and other reasons - but one of them was to keep the federal government out of our back pockets. They want to legislate everything, and Alabama's just not going to put up with it.
GREENE: All right, one voice from the Alabama Senate race. NPR's Debbie Elliott reporting there. Deb, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
ELLIOTT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.