Pence, Bannon campaign for opposing Alabama Senate candidates

Last Updated Sep 26, 2017 8:29 AM EDT

The vice president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, campaigned for opposing Alabama Senate candidates Monday night, the eve of the state's runoff election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' vacant Senate seat.

"Tomorrow is going to decide who has sovereignty in the United State of America," Bannon declared in Fairhope, Alabama, at a rally for the insurgent challenger, former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. "Is it the elites in Washington, D.C. with their money, or is it the people in Alabama with their muscle?"

Although President Trump backs Moore's opponent, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, Bannon made it clear that he thinks it's actually Moore who best represents the president's interests.

"A vote for Judge Roy Moore is a vote for Donald J. Trump. And a vote for Donald J. Trump is a vote to make America great again," Bannon concluded.

Mr. Trump has been vocal in his endorsement of Strange, tweeting his support of the candidate on many occasions, and on Friday he rallied in Huntsville, Alabama, to campaign his behalf.

While Mr. Trump's support of Strange has not wavered, he admitted he may not have picked the winning candidate, and he assured GOP Alabama voters that he'll throw his support behind the winner of the runoff. "I told Luther, and I have to say this, if his opponent wins, I'm going to be here campaigning like hell for him," Trump said in Huntsville Friday. 

Pence lent his support on election eve at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night.

"I stand with Luther, I stand with President Donald Trump and I will always stand for our national anthem," Pence said at Strange's rally, referencing the ongoing debate between Mr. Trump and NFL players who refuse to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" out of protest.

Strange was appointed in February to temporarily fill Sessions' Senate seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned shortly after the appointment.

"I know with Senator Strange's strong support, we'll repeal and replace Obamacare," Pence said, adding that a vote against the Graham-Cassidy health care bill is a "vote to save Obamacare."

Pence also reminded voters that Mr. Trump and Strange are united in their views on immigration policy.

"President Trump and Big Luther are going to build that wall," Pence said, using Strange's nickname. The crowd responded with cheers and chants of "build that wall!"

In addition to winning the support of the Trump administration, Alabama's other senator, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, has announced his support for Strange. He has also won the endorsement of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, as well as conservative groups like the National Rifle Association and the National Right to Life Committee.

"With President Trump in the White House and Luther Strange in the Senate, we will make America safe again, we will make America prosperous again and, to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again," Pence concluded, also asking the people of Alabama to "send this good man back to the United States Senate."

Moore is running a shake-up, anti-establishment campaign, winning him the backing of Bannon's right-wing website, Breitbart News. In 2003, Moore refused a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from court grounds, which got him kicked off the bench. He was later reinstated in 2012, but he was kicked off again in 2016 for not abiding by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage in 2016.

"This populist, nationalist, conservative movement is on the rise. And Judge Roy Moore represents your values. He represents the state of Alabama's values," Bannon told Alabama voters.

Senate Republicans worry that Moore's unorthodox political nature may disrupt GOP Senate goals, or that it might even give Democrat Doug Jones an advantage.

Toward the end of the rally, Moore used a memorable approach to answer one charge that's been leveled against him, saying, "And I don't believe in the Second Amendment? I believe in the Second Amendment!" He then pulled a handgun out of his pocket to show the crowd.