Alabama is set to cast a ballot in a special election that pits accused pedophile Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones. Polls suggest the race will be tighter than expected in a state that is heavily Republican.
The US state of Alabama was set to vote in a special Senate race on Tuesday that has underscored how deeply divided American politics have become.
The race pits Republican Roy Moore (above), who has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting multiple underage girls in the 1970s, against Doug Jones, a Democrat in a deeply Republican state. Polls from different sources have varied greatly, with some giving Moore a ten-point lead and others calling Jones as the prospective winner.
"I've known Roy for 27 years," a retired Moore supporter told DW at a campaign event in Fairhope, Alabama on the eve of the election. "In all that time, nothing in his behavior indicated that he was capable of such things. You would have noticed something like that!"
This particular voter echoed what many of Moore's supporters have said in defense of their candidate: "It is no coincidence that these women are making their accusations during the campaign. Why did they hide it for so many years?"
One young woman put it to DW more bluntly, telling our reporter "you're all fake news!"
On hand in Fairhope to continue his campaign of mistrust against mainstream narratives was former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
"Don't believe them," Bannon said of politicians in Washington. "They only want to hold on to their power. They want to silence you."
The race to replace Jeff Sessions, who was appointed Attorney General by President Donald Trump, has taken on unprecedented importance as Moore has taken on the role of standard-bearer of the increasingly emboldened far-right.
Kayla Moore: 'We have Jewish friends'
Although he has recently received the endorsement of President Trump, both the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had backed Republican Luther Strange early in the race – but Strange lost the primary to the anti-abortion, anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim Moore.
Moore's wife Kayla did however defend her husband against accusations that he was racist and anti-Semitic.
Speaking at a campaign event in Midland City on Monday, Kayla Moore said that her husband couldn't be anti-Semitic because "one of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends who are Jewish," and could not be racist because he appointed the first African-American marshal to the Alabama Supreme Court when he was a judge there.
Last week, Moore attacked Jewish Hungarian-American philanthropist and billionaire George Soros, saying that the progressive mega-donor was "going to the same place that people who don't recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going."
In September, the Los Angeles Times reported on a campaign event in which Moore said that he thought the last time the US was "great" was before the Civil War, "even though we had slavery."
"At the same event, Moore referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as "reds and yellows," and earlier this year he suggested the September 11 terrorist attacks were divine punishment," the Times reported.
Asked if he would vote for Roy Moore, Alabama's other senator, Republican Richard Shelby said that "the Republican party can do better," and that he would be writing in a third candidate rather than cast a ballot for Moore or Jones.