BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – Former Vice President Joe Biden hit the campaign trail Tuesday for Doug Jones, a rare Democrat who may have a shot at the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Jones, a longtime federal prosecutor, will face Republican Roy Moore in the Dec. 12 special election.
Moore, who was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for violating federal orders, citing his private religious objections, defeated incumbent appointed Senator Luther Strange in the Sept. 27 Republican primary. President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other powerful Republicans in Congress backed Strange, due to Moore’s contentious history, leading some pundits to say that Jones may have a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in the Deep South.
Alabama Democrats queued for more than two hours Tuesday under the hot sun outside the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center until Biden and Jones took the stage.
Jones spoke first, of his childhood, growing up the son and grandson of a steelworker and coalminer in Fairfield, just outside of Birmingham city limits.
He said his parents and grandfather taught him the values he hopes to bring to the Senate. “They are values of honesty, integrity and character, something that we desperately need in the State of Alabama. I have, like Joe, over the last years in my career fought for civil rights. I have fought for women’s rights and I have done everything I can to fight for equality for every person in the State of Alabama.”
He implicitly endorsed the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which Republicans vowed, and failed, to repeal.
“I want to try to make sure we have health care for everyone, that’s affordable, that people don’t have to go into the bankruptcy court to pay medical bills, that single moms don’t have to take their children to the emergency rooms for health care, that we can keep our rural hospitals open,” he said.
“Folks, I’ve got to tell you that I took these same values to the United States Attorney’s Office, where we coordinated a task force that convicted Eric Rudolph for bombing a women’s clinic and where we investigated the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.”
Jones in 2001 and 2002 secured the conviction of two Klan members whose bomb killed four black children at the church in Birmingham, a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
“You know, people told me time and time again that this race is a long shot, but folks, it’s not the first time I’ve heard that something I want to do, something I feel passionate about, is a long shot,” Jones said.
“They told me in 1997 that prosecuting a case that was almost 40 years old is a long shot, but you know what? When you are on the right side of history and the right side of justice, you can do anything. I truly believe that this campaign is on the right side of history. We are on the right side of justice, we are on the right side of respect and fairness and I can tell you Roy Moore is not on the right side of any of those things.”