Former Vice President Joe Biden made a trip to the Yellowhammer State to throw his support behind Democratic candidate Doug Jones, whom Biden painted as a measured, reasonable and respectful candidate who "knows Alabama" -- a stark foil to the Republican candidate.
"My mother used to say that the most important virtue was courage," Biden said. "Doug has demonstrated his courage and his absolute integrity. ... Doug knows Alabama. He knows your heart. And he'll never let you down."
Biden said he didn't even have to explain the contrast between Jones, who is a former U.S. Attorney, and former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is headlining the Republican ticket.
"You know folks, in our system, there's no way it can function without consensus, consensus," said Biden, who served as vice president for 8 years but was a U.S. senator for 36 years. "We don't need another extremist up in the United States Senate."
Biden didn't name Moore outright.
Jones and Moore will face off in December in a special election to replace now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated Alabama's junior senator seat in February when he was appointed to head the Justice Department.
Biden traveled to Alabama Tuesday to stump for Jones -- a long-shot but experienced candidate whom many Democrats feel just might have a chance.
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"I promised Doug I would campaign for him or against him, whichever one would help him most," Biden said jokingly. "Doug possess what an American political leader and the system need today."
Democrats hope that the controversial nature of his opponent Moore might also help out Jones.
Moore has been a fervent opponent of same-sex marriage throughout his time in Alabama politics. in September 2016, he was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court after defying the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision. More than a decade earlier, he was removed for defying a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state's judicial building.
"When you're on the right side of history and on the right side of justice, you can do anything," Jones said before Biden took the stage at an auditorium in Birmingham's BJCC. "Roy Moore is not on the right side."
Moore's victory in the Republican runoff on Aug. 15 was a shock to many establishment forces who had thrown their money and resources behind Sen. Luther Strange, the incumbent appointed to temporarily replace Jeff Sessions. Those establishment forces were worried that Moore would join more conservative wings of the party and add another roadblock for the leadership's agenda.
Strange ultimately lost despite a visit by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence -- on top of more than $30 million in ad buys financed by a Mitch McConnell-aligned PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund.
Democrats are hoping to perform a similar upset but by a different method in a state that has not voted for a Democratic candidate in a statewide election since 2008.
"When (Doug Jones) wins this race, it will send ripples across this country," Biden said. "But don't do it for that reason. Do it for Alabama. Do it for Alabama."
The last Democrat to hold a statewide elected position was the late Alabama political icon Lucy Baxley, who was elected as Public Service Commission president in 2008. And Republicans have held large majorities in the state Legislature since 2010.
Nationwide, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on disdain for Republicans in charge of Congress and disdain for President Donald Trump. Democratic Senate leadership in Washington have discussed plans to bolster Jones' campaign, according to the New York Times.
On top of that, Democrats in Alabama -- who have been plagued with apathy and low voter turnout for nearly a decade now -- believe they may finally have a candidate in this election who can inspire the base and get voters out to the polls.
Having a packed audience of more than 1,000 at a smaller auditorium in the BJCC in Birmingham is perhaps a good sign that Democrats may have more momentum in this race than in recent years.
"He knows the people. He cares about the people. He is determined to get up there and do right," said Donna Corbett, a Democratic voter from Walker County who attended the rally. "But he's going to need a lot of help."
Jones is best known for his legal career as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama during the administration of President Bill Clinton. During his time as a federal prosecutor, Jones reopened the cold 16th Street Baptist Church bombing case and brought two former Klansmen who perpetrated the bombing to court.
Both were convicted in 2001 -- nearly 40 years after the 1963 bombings.
"Not all candidates are created equal," Biden said. "I can count on two hands the people I have campaigned for that have as much integrity, as much courage, and the sense of honor and duty that Doug does."
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