By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, Roy Moore and Luther Strange finally faced in a debate in Montgomery.
The Lincoln-Douglas style debate had no actual moderator and did not really have much disagreement on the actual issues. The two Republican Senate candidates both enthusiastically support President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda; but the two men clearly do not like each other.
Sen. Strange, R-Ala., stated early in the debate, “The President supports me,” and reiterated that point throughout his performance. Strange said that the president will be at a rally with him in Huntsville on Friday and that Vice President Mike Pence also supports him and will be in Alabama on Monday before the election.
“They (Trump and Pence) could choose anyone, but they chose me,” Strange said. They could have chosen my opponent. They could have stayed out of it; but they didn’t.” Strange warned that, “The future of this country is at stake. We have got to get results done. I talked with him (Trump) for about a half an hour last night. He is angry and I am angry about the lack of progress in Washington.”
Luther said that Trump said, “I need you at my side. I need you as a floor leader.”
“I am not running against the President of the United States,” Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said. “I am running against Luther Strange.”
Moore said the election of Trump gave Americans a new inspiration, a new hope; but since then “the establishment has done nothing.”
“We have got to do more,” Moore said. “I want to help things get started. I want our military strong again and free from social experimentation like trans-genders in the military. Taxes need to be cut. Trade needs to be fair as well as free.
“I want to see virtue and morality return to our country.”
Strange said that former U.S. Senator, “Jeff Sessions was my mentor I got into politics because of Sessions.” Strange said that Sessions is enforcing the law on immigration.
“Jeff is doing that and I am supporting him in that effort,” Strange said. “Illegal border crossings are down 70 percent because we have an attorney general that enforces the law.”
Strange emphasized that he supports the wall.
Moore said that he also supports building the wall; but that we can’t afford to wait around on our haunches while the wall is being built and urged using the military to stop illegal border crossings. Moore denounced attack ads accusing him of opposing the wall and said that the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals implemented by President Barack Obama is wrong and the Dream Act currently in Congress is wrong,
Moore also attacked Strange for his financial interest in a company that trades U.S. visas to Chinese millionaires and for his 23-year career as a Washington lobbyist.
“You don’t drain the swamp of lobbyists; by sending a lobbyist to the United States Senate,” he said.
Strange who has based his candidacy on negative ads attacking Moore, and U.S. Rep Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, earlier, accused Moore of going negative instead of discussing issues. Strange defended his lobbyist career saying that he represented firms including Hyundai and a research park in Huntsville that brought thousands of jobs to Alabama; while shooting back, “I don’t know of any jobs that my opponent has created.”
Moore shot back that Strange, as a lobbyist representing Russell Company, lobbied for passage of CAFTA. Afterwards thousands of Alabama textile jobs left places like Alexander City and Opelika and went to Mexico and Central America.
Strange fired at Moore supporters and indirectly at former White House Advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka saying that his opponent’s supporters, “Look like the unemployment line at the White House.” Both Bannon and Gorka are backing Moore.
Moore read from a Nov. 3 letter that Strange wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, requesting that the committee halt its investigation and hearings into the conduct of then Gov. Robert Bentley implying that there was a state Attorney General’s office investigation at the time (Strange was then Attorney General). Moore asked Strange why he did not recuse himself from the investigation into Robert Bentley when he interviewed with Bentley to get to the Senate. Moore suggested that as a prosecutor it was unethical to take anything, even a free meal, from the subject of a criminal investigation when you are the prosecutor. (Bentley has since plead guilty of two violations and resigned – after appointed Luther Strange as the U.S. Senator representing Alabama.)
Strange dismissed this line of questioning as Moore going negative again.
Afterwards the Strange’s campaign called for reporters to circle Strange for an impromptu press conference. The Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman asked Strange if there was a criminal investigation into Bentley before he interviewed with Bentley for the Senate job.
Strange again refused to answer saying that he has already spoken enough on that topic.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler then interrupted. “Luther answer the question.”
His handler then stepped in waving off reporters saying, “No more questions.”
The runoff will be on Tuesday, Sept. 26.