By Glenn Stephens
Who is the strongest, most effective supporter of President Donald Trump?
That seems to be the dominant question Alabama Republicans are asking as they near the March 3 election to choose a nominee to try to unseat freshman Democrat Doug Jones in this fall’s U.S. Senate race.
The field of seven GOP candidates has talked about, and shown basic agreement on, the topics of immigration, taxes and the economy as well as social issues such as abortion, guns and health care. Jones, who won the seat in a special election in December 2017, has no opposition in the March Democratic primary.
Jeff Sessions, who gave up his seat in the Senate after being chosen by Trump to be attorney general – only to be fired and subjected to withering criticism by the president – faces the task of convincing voters that he has maintained a steadfast loyalty to Trump despite those events.
The other two leading candidates, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Fairhope and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, also have flooded the airways with ads touting their fealty to the president.
State Rep. Arnold Moody of Indian Springs and Haleyville businessman Stanley Adair have played up their support for Trump as well.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has praised the president but talked largely about the nation’s need to return to moral values and acknowledgement of God. A seventh candidate, Ruth Page Nelson of Dothan, has not actively campaigned.
Following is a sampling of comments made by the candidates on their websites and in broadcast ads, speeches and other forums.
“The Southern Border has been an issue for years. This has become a National Crisis that has to be addressed. We can fix the problem by fixing the Asylum laws. Those that come to America must enter by merit. We cannot be a Nation without Laws.” — stanleyadairforsenate.com
“We are a nation of laws, and our very sovereignty is being threatened by unstopped illegal immigration. I support President Trump and will fight to give our law enforcement officials the tools and resources they need to fight illegal immigration. We must deploy the national guard, and use any means necessary to stop the rampant caravans of illegals that are heading to the Mexican border. Border security is national security, and I am committed to working with President Trump to build the wall, secure our borders, and put America first.” — bradleybyrne.com.
Announcer: “Our Southern border is on fire. Illegal aliens swarm, opioids flow, Americans die. Establishment politicians say they’re tough on immigration but do nothing. Who has the cajones to actually do something?”
Candidate: “I’m Arnold Mooney. Let’s finally build that dad-gum wall and cut legal immigration — yeah, I said legal. We can put America first or we can keep emptying out Central America.” — Television ad.
Asked about immigrants who are in the United States illegally, some for many years: “I think you address that by looking at their qualifications and the qualifications for immigration, and you give them the same provisions you give anybody else but take into consideration they’ve been here 20-30 years and have jobs and things. I think you need to have a firm border security policy. I think building a wall is one solution, and that needs to be done (and there needs to be better use of money spent on border security and effective training of officers).” — Interview, WVTM.
He also said the citizenship test should require knowledge of the Constitution and the English language.
“No great nation can have borders it can’t control. Far too many people say they want to do something about fixing the border but have no real commitment to do so. There’s no greater chance than with Donald Trump as President. … I have put in place a zero-tolerance policy, enforcing the law without exception. If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you.” — Television ad.
“We must first secure our border as we attempt real immigration reforms that will impact our nation for decades to come. I fully support President Trump’s plan to build a wall and make our nation more secure. And I will make sure our border patrol, detention centers, and law enforcement officers along and near the border have the resources they need to fight the scourge of illegal immigration that brings drugs, terrorists, and criminals into our country on a daily basis.” — tommyforsenate.com.
“I believe that we need to take care of veterans from the time they come home to the time they go home (until death). I’m very much in support of helping our veterans all the way. Give them more assistance, more health care.” He also said Congress should “fix the Veterans Administration.” —Interview, WSFA
“Building on President Reagan’s principle of ‘peace through strength,’ I support a strong and fully capable U.S. military. Alabama has a proud tradition of supporting our nation’s military. From Redstone Arsenal to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base to Fort Rucker, I will always fight to make sure Alabama leads our country in ensuring a world-class military that can defend our nation from any threat. … “Every day, another son or daughter goes into harm’s way to protect our freedoms and defend our values. When they come home, we must honor their service. Far too many Alabama veterans receive inadequate care in the VA system, and that has to stop. We must hold the VA accountable and demand better care for our veterans. I also support giving veterans the right to access private medical care in their local community, so they do not get stuck in a broken VA system.” — bradleybyrne.com.
“I am closely tied with the military. I have one son at West Point that’s about to be commissioned. I have another son who was just promoted to staff sergeant in the Army. I was in the military for many years. I know about war. My biggest issues were to see about the interests of this country. And when we’re talking about war with Iran … you need somebody with military experience in command … You need somebody that’s gone through these things. Most of the candidates in this race have never been in a war. In fact, I don’t know of any of the others that have been in a war. I have. I’ve been trained as a military leader, and a highly regarded military leader.” — Interview, WVTM.
Speaking to Republicans in the Huntsville area, Sessions called for a strong national defense. Noting the role Huntsville plays in the nation’s defense and space programs, he said that when he was a senator he worked for the area’s interests. “I used to say I worked full-time for Huntsville because so much of what we did was related to this community. Nobody in this race comes close to knowing this city like I do. I’m the only veteran in the race, so I feel like I have an opportunity right now to make an unusual contribution.” — WHNT.
“The first role of our government is to protect its citizens and that is why I will support a strong and robust military. I know we must provide our Armed Forces with the tools and resources they need to protect Americans at home and abroad. Alabamians are proud and we stand with our military and our Veterans who have given so much for our nation.” — tommyforsenate.com.
I would like to see lower health care costs. This Obamacare … I’d like to see it completely done away with. And I would also like to talk to some of these monopolies that have got this insurance and try to see if we can’t get where we can buy insurance across state lines for our folks because that would lower our premiums. Our prescription drug prices are way out of whack, so we need to continue down that road of bringing that healthcare to the Alabama people and the rest of the country.” — Interview, WSFA.
“I want every Alabama family to have access to affordable, high-quality health care. To do this, I support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a free-market approach that doesn’t put the government between a patient and their doctor. I’m also working with President Trump to lower the cost of prescription drugs, especially for Alabama’s seniors.” — Bradleybyrne.com
“Our health care is a vital area of concern to all Alabamians and we have suffered with onerous and harmful federal intervention. We have just begun to see the catastrophic impact of Obamacare. Health care cannot be micromanaged at the national level. Obamacare must be repealed and entitlement programs like Medicaid reformed, not expanded. Health care reforms should be patient-doctor relationship centered. … Health care freedom is the only answer to address increasingly high costs, narrowing access and diminishing quality of care. What is health care freedom? It is a patient centered system wherein patients and physicians directly interface, free from federal interference and third-party bureaucrats (government or insurance) distorting costs and inhibiting patient choice.” — arnoldmooney.com.
Referring to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Moore said when he announced his candidacy: “Has anybody’s healthcare improved? Have we got more healthcare? What I find is businesses struggling to provide health care. They can’t do it, and yet we have over and over and over people in Washington saying we oppose it but they can’t do anything about it.”
“Obamacare must go. This failed experiment has led to higher costs, less quality care, and a system that hurts patients and doctors more than it helps. I believe that we need a return to the free-market where companies compete for your business, while ensuring that pre-existing conditions are not a deterrent to obtaining quality insurance and care.” —tommyforsenate.com.
“I’m always talking about the deficit. We’re at $23 trillion in deficits. Nobody is talking about that. Discretionary spending is out of whack. We’re spending so much money on these pork belly spending favorite pet projects the people have back home. We need to cut out some of this. I think it’s continuing to keep us in a debt that we can’t pay. … I don’t want to cut the military spending. We need to stay the super power that we are now. … We can think of a lot of things we can cut out … spending money across our borders to buy our enemies.” — Interview, WSFA.
“Alabama’s economy is strongest when taxes are low, government gets out of the way, and our workers are allowed to do their job. Our state’s economy has made major strides in the last decade thanks to conservative, pro-growth policies, and the leadership of President Trump, but we cannot stop now. Through a smaller government and lower taxes, we’ll create thousands more good-paying jobs in Alabama. … Washington has a spending problem, which is why I have introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Families and small businesses in Alabama must live within their means, and the federal government should play by the same rules. By focusing on eliminating wasteful government programs and agencies, we can rein in spending and leave behind a more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren unburdened by crushing debt.” —bradleybyrne.com.
“The federal government continues to bury future generations of Americans further into debt. Without an immediate and sustained effort to reverse the trend, Americans will suffer dire consequences. The United States is rapidly approaching $24 trillion in national debt, a figure that doesn’t even include unfunded liabilities in excess of $100 trillion. Reigning in the national debt is one of my top priorities. … Access to relatively deregulated foreign markets is critical for our economy, our farmers, and our businesses. However, hostile nations like communist China have long manipulated our desire to see the free flow and exchange of goods and services as a means of growing their influence and exporting their authoritarian philosophy. The steady stream of American businesses bending a knee to communist China in the name of money — and access to what they believe is a growing market — is eroding our institutions, undermining our values, and pitting American companies against the American people.” — arnoldmooney.com
“President Trump has been a leader in the economy. … I think that as long as we stay on this course and we also look at these trade agreements and everything carefully, I think we are going to have a continuing incline in our economy. … I think besides looking at the economy, you’ve got to look at the relationship with China. … I think balanced trade is a big thing, and I think we’ve got a complete imbalance. … I’d like to branch off and talk about taxes on people and giving them more of their taxes back. I think that helps with the economy – they have money to spend and I think Americans do spend their money, and I think that’s a good thing. I think the deficit in our economy is bad. Washington said that in his farewell address. This has been in the last two decades that it’s really started to climb … I think we’ve got to look at that for the safety and welfare of our future generations.” — Interview, WVTM.
“We’ve made some real progress. For example, wages, which had been flat for 20 years for working Americans, have gone up the last two years, and a lot of that is because of economic policies — the deregulation, the tax cuts, the fighting for our interests on the world stage in trade. The trade agenda is important. We are competing, but we are competing against nations that cheat and take advantage, steal our technology. China is one of the worst. We’ve got to defend our interests on the world stage effectively. President Trump is doing that.” — Interview, WSFA.
“Thankfully, we have a President who thinks like we do: lower taxes create jobs and less spending reduces the size and scope of the federal government. After eight long years of a declining economy, we are now seeing record job growth across the board and the lowest unemployment rates for Veterans and African Americans in history. President Trump’s tax cuts and economic policies have driven this success – and I will join in the fight and support our President as we continue to grow our economy.” —tommyforsenate.com
“I believe that we have the right to keep and bear arms, as the Constitution states. This is the right of every law-biding citizen. Banning certain types of guns will not solve the gun violence in this country. It’s not the guns, it’s the people behind the guns. I strongly support our Second Amendment.” —Stanleyadairforsenate.com
“I am proud to say I have a lifetime ‘A’ rating from the NRA and have humbly accepted their endorsement many times before. As a gun owner and hunter, I will do everything in my power to protect our Second Amendment right to bear arms. We must resist efforts by Liberal Democrats to ban firearms and oppose unconstitutional ‘Gun registries’ that are nothing more than a big-government power grab.” — bradleybyrne.com.
“I strongly believe in the 2nd Amendment and its constitutional guarantee for Americans right to keep and bear arms. Period. The right to protect oneself and family is a God given right. The Second Amendment is not up for debate or discussion. Our nation has been wracked by the evil acts of individuals and the progressive Left has gone all in on effectively repealing the Second Amendment and destroying constitutional due process rights.” — arnoldmoney.com
“The Second Amendment is very special to me. I think some of the laws are infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. Gun violence is not a proper term. Guns don’t make violence; people make violence. Until we address the moral issue in our society, we’re going to continue to have problems. … Solving those moral problems is very simple: You turn back to God and the basis of religion on which this nation was founded.” —Interview, WVTM.
He boasts a top rating from the National Rifle Association. During Sessions’ confirmation hearing for attorney general, NRA executive director Chris W. Cox said: “Jeff Sessions strongly supports our Second Amendment rights and will work tirelessly to defend them. He knows the difference between violent criminals and law-abiding citizens, and will support law enforcement’s efforts to get law-breakers off the streets.” — Politico.
“While we are fighting out-of-touch liberals to protect life and liberty, we must also stand up for the time-honored traditions we hold dear in Alabama. Being a sportsman has always been a part of my life. That is why I will always vote to protect and preserve our Second Amendment rights.” — tommyforsenate.com.
“This is not an issue, it is a RIGHT! Every life is valuable. I am proud to be a Pro-Life supporter. 100%.” — stanleyadairforsenate.com.
“My faith in Christ is my foundation, and I believe that every child is made in God’s image. As the father of four children, I’ll always cherish the moment I held each one in my arms. It’s simply disgusting that some Democrats are pushing to make it easier to murder the defenseless, unborn children, and that Senate Democrats blocked legislation to end late-term abortions and protect babies born alive from abortion. I’ve always made it my priority to support pro-life policies, and I’ve worked tirelessly to defund abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood. Every life is precious, and I will never stop fighting for the unborn.” — bradleybyrne.com.
“Life is precious and begins at conception. The unborn cannot speak for themselves, and I strongly believe that as a society we are judged by how we protect those who are the most vulnerable. There is no group more vulnerable than the unborn. Watching my children experience the miracle of life with their growing families has only further cemented my unwavering belief in safeguarding the unborn’s right to life.” — arnoldmooney.com.
When he announced his decision to run for the Senate again, Moore asked whether some in Washington didn’t want him to be a candidate because “I believe in the right of a baby in the womb to have a life.” He has a long history of opposing abortion, and it was a key issue for many conservatives who supported Moore when he lost to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election for the Senate in December 2017.
As a senator and attorney general, Sessions was known for his opposition to abortion. National Right to Life praised his record after his appointment as attorney general. “Throughout his tenure in the United States Senate, which began in 1997, Jeff Sessions has a 100% pro-life voting record. He has opposed all of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court,” NRL said at the time. — Rewire.News.
“A Christian conservative, I will always stand up for those who can’t do so on their own. I will fight to protect the sanctity of every human life because future generations may very well look back at the current wave of infanticide sweeping across our nation as this generation’s holocaust.” — tommyforsenate.com.
She has not campaigned actively and so doesn’t have published stances on each of the issues. The following is from a post on her Facebook page:
I am running for U.S. Senate, from Alabama. When you get sick enough of injustice, you stand up and fix what is wrong. Just please tell everyone you know in Alabama that we no longer can tolerate injustice and low wages, disability that tops the nation, and schools that are at bottom-50th out of 50 the bottom.
“We must provide support for families, veterans and persons wrongfully treated in all walks of life so we can live and prosper together. We must vote for a person not a party. My work in the community is solid. I am a Republican, who knows that the Constitution should not be adulterated therefore, you will realize that smaller government, your rights to bear arms, and individual rights-not government overreach is what we need now. Stand up. Your Vote Is Your Voice – Vote Mar. 3rd.
“NAFTA was the worst trade agreement that America ever made. It was the forerunner to Clinton’s War on Drugs, Mass Incarceration, Draining America of Manufacturing, and the catalyst for disorder and lawlessness in Mexico. Democrats made the laws that made me a Republican.”