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Will Jones campaign welcome Obama's help against Moore?

by Jonathan Allen and Mark Murray /
Image: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 46th annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 46th annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, Sept. 17, 2016.Yuri Gripas / Reuters file

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former President Barack Obama has recorded a phone message in support of Doug Jones, the Democratic Senate nominee in Alabama's special election on Tuesday.

But it's not clear yet whether the Jones camp will use the "robocall" to try to get voters to the polls because Obama is a double-edged sword in this state.

A source familiar with Obama's endorsement confirmed the call to NBC News.

Jones was asked on Monday by reporters about the ex-president's recorded call, which was first reported by The New York Times, and said he didn't know anything about it.

"I'm going to be candid with you guys. I know that there have been a lot of robocalls that have been recorded. I don't know what is being used, that is just not something I'm doing," Jones said.

Jones needs to mobilize black voters on Tuesday, and the voice of Obama, the nation's first black president, could be helpful in that effort. On the other hand, Obama is deeply unpopular with white Republican Alabamians, so the move could backfire by giving GOP nominee Roy Moore a new tool with which to energize his base.

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During his 2012 re-election campaign, Obama won just 15 percent of whites in Alabama, according to exit polls.

"This one's serious. You can't sit it out," Obama says in the call, according to CNN. "Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama."

Moore's victory over Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican primary runoff earlier this year convinced Democrats that they had at least an outside shot of snagging a Senate seat that's been in GOP hands for two decades. Allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore — which he denies — have given Jones a boost.

Public polls have swung wildly in recent weeks, but, taken together, they suggest a close race.

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