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Moore vs. Jones: Where the Alabama Senate candidates stand on the issues

by Jane C. Timm /
Image: Roy Moore and Doug Jones
Roy Moore and Doug JonesScott Olson, Vasha Hunt / Getty Images/AL.com

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It's anyone's guess who wins in Alabama Tuesday night.

Voters in the Cotton State will choose between conservative former Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court Roy Moore, accused by nine women of sexual misconduct but embraced by President Donald Trump and the state Republican party, and Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who put two Ku Klux Klan members behind bars but whose view on abortion may prove the deciding factor.

Jones and Moore differ on the issues facing the country, though matters of policy have been largely overshadowed by the scandal dogging Moore's campaign, as well as reports of his extreme views — he has said that America was better off during slavery, linked evolution to crime, and suggested that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.

Here's where the candidates stand on eight policy issues.

Abortion

Moore's stance: Against abortion

"Babies piled in dumpster, abortion on demand," Moore wrote in a 2007 anti-abortion poem. "Oh, sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand."

This is a key issue for Moore, and his campaign has hit it hard, going after Jones for his more progressive stance. Moore’s wife, Kayla, declared during a campaign rally that Jones supported “full-term abortion” (there is no such procedure) while a super PAC supporting Moore ran a campaign ad showing an ultrasound of a baby with its heart monitor flatlining as Jones' face flashes.

His campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not he would support exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life.

Jones' stance: Supports abortion rights

"I'm not in favor of anything that's going to infringe on a women's right, and her freedom to choose," Jones told NBC News' Chuck Todd when asked if he would support a 20-week abortion ban.

The comments stirred up controversy and Jones later said he was supporting existing state law, which already bars abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.

Health care

Moore's stance: Repeal Obamacare

Moore wants to ax the health care law, and open up state boundaries to increase competition for health care. His website says he wants churches and charities to help poor Americans afford care, rather than the government.

While he's vowed to uphold the president's agenda, he didn't support the Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace proposal Trump supported, calling it “socialized medicine at best," on Fox News.

Jones' stance: Fix Obamacare

He says the Affordable Care Act needs to be fixed, not repealed, and says he’s “disturbed” by repeal efforts that could leave millions uninsured. His campaign website calls health care "a right, not a privilege limited to the wealthy and those with jobs that provide coverage.”

LGBT equality

Moore's stance: Against gay marriage, has said transgender people "don't have rights"

Moore has likened homosexuality to beastiality, writing from the bench in a custody case involving a lesbian mother that homosexual behavior is “an inherent evil." He was suspended without pay or judicial power from the Alabama Supreme Court last year for ordering probate judges to refuse marriage licenses for gay couples, in defiance of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling. Moore, who said transgender people "don't have rights," also refused an invitation to debate his Democratic opponent "because of their very liberal stance on transgenderism and transgenderism in the military and in bathrooms."

Jones' stance: For equality

Jones has the endorsement of Human Rights Campaign for his views on LGBT issues. He’s also voiced support for protecting the rights of transgender people in the military and in public schools.

Crime

Moore's stance: No clear plans

One of Trump’s chief rallying cries in support of Moore is that opponent Jones is “weak on crime,” but he doesn’t talk that much about criminal justice or reform. He doesn't indicate his position on his website, either. Moore touted the endorsement of sheriffs in a press conference, with one sheriff saying he supported Moore because “he will funnel money our way to help our sheriffs protect our citizens" and help combat the opioid crisis.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Moore "said he favored money for counseling and law enforcement, though he did not go into detail."

Jones' stance: Supports criminal justice reform

Running for office in a state with one of the highest incarceration rates, he promised to make criminal justice reform a top priority, starting with mandatory minimum sentences. He supports "creating options for alternative sentencing, seeking to rehabilitate those in the justice system instead of sending all of them to prison at a high cost to their families and to taxpayers."

Immigration

Moore's stance: Supports Trump's call for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico

Moore says "the flow of illegal immigrants" both the northern and southern borders are a threat to the nation. He supports tougher immigration enforcement, potentially using the military. He wants to reduce legal immigration, too.

"If a wall is our only option, then we should build it immediately," Moore said on his website.

Jones' stance: Against the wall

Jones advocates border security, but says building a border wall is too expensive — he’d rather spend that money on health care or tax cuts. He argues there would be less illegal immigration if legal immigration were simpler and more streamlined.

Climate change

Moore's stance: Doesn't believe in it, hasn't campaigned on it

In a 2009 op-ed, Moore wrote that global warming “does not have the support of a scientific consensus.” (It does.) He has not campaigned on the issue, refusing to answer questions from the Montgomery Advertiser on the issue.

Jones' stance: Believes in science

Jones believes in global warming, but is quick to note he's still the son of a steelworker and grandson of a coal miner and advocates for job retraining programs and health care to carry out-of-work miners into new careers

He opposes the president’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris climate agreement.

Separation of church and state

Moore's stance: Wants Christianity reflected in government

Moore is a Christian conservative, and he’s determined to keep those values front and center in his work. As a judge, he effectively lost his job twice over church-state separation issues, feuding with the U.S. Supreme Court over gay marriage and the American Civil Liberties Union over a 5,000-pound granite statue of the Ten Commandments at his courthouse. He's vowed to preserve Christian "values" in the Senate.

“The Church's role should be separated from the state's role. That is the definition of separation of church and state. But separation of church and state was never meant to separate God and government,” Moore said in 2004.

Jones' stance: Religion is no excuse for discrimination, but religious discrimination won't be tolerated

Jones wants you to know Moore isn't the only Christian running, but he said religion is no excuse for discrimination. Asked how he would reassure voters on the fence who want to protect their “religious freedoms, or their guns, their culture,” Jones said in part that he would not “protect discrimination of any sort, in any way, whether it’s race, religion, sex orientation or whatever.”

Economy

Moore's stance: Lower taxes, reduce government spending

According to his campaign website, Moore wants a flat tax and reduced government spending across the board — but advocates increased spending on the military. He doesn't support raising the debt ceiling, something that could put him at odds with members of his party who want to dodge a government shutdown, and says he wants to immediately balance the country's budget.

Jones' stance: Lower taxes, raise the minimum wage

Despite Trump's "mostly false" claim that Jones wants to "raise taxes to the sky," Jones supports tax cuts for the middle class as well as for corporations. He's spoken out against tax breaks for the wealthy, but shied away from saying he'd close loopholes.

Jones wants to raise the minimum wage, use legislation to insist on gender pay equality, and curb regulations' effect on small businesses. He has also championed education and training as the best way to boost the economy long-term.

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