It’s not every day that a candidate for US Senate calls his opponent a child abuser. But in Alabama, that’s exactly what Democrat Doug Jones did in a new political ad against Republican Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing and in some cases sexually assaulting teenage girls while he was in his 30s.
“The list is growing,” the narrator says. “They were girls when Roy Moore immorally pursued them. Now they are women, witnesses to us all of his disturbing conduct. Will we make their abuser a US senator?”
It is incredibly unusual for a Senate campaign to descend into questions over whether a major-party candidate sexually abused children. But here we are.
There’s also political savvy to the timing of Jones’s ad. As Commentary writer Noah Rothman noted on Twitter, Jones didn’t put out this ad the week that the allegations were dominating national media. (The other ads on Jones’s YouTube page are largely about his promise to work across the aisle in Congress, although there was one more ad from a couple days ago about conservative voices speaking out against Roy Moore following the allegations.) Instead, he waited until coverage of the allegations died down a bit — and is now using his own ads to bring the allegations back up and make sure they don’t go away.
Alabama is a heavily Republican state, but, based on RealClearPolitics’s average of the polls, the race now appears to be virtually tied.
For more on the Roy Moore allegations, read Vox’s explainer.