The Alabama-based Republican consultant Lance Hyche said that Moore’s disappearance from the trail means his campaign “obviously feels like they’re doing well,” and speculated that “maybe his camp feels like he can only get himself into trouble” by sending him out to face public scrutiny.
“Considering the media attention and negative campaigning and criticisms and accusations leveled against Judge Moore, maybe it is a good strategy,” Hyche said.
Moore has been a known quantity in Alabama for decades, and has a devoted fan base. He achieved national notoriety during the 2000s for his refusal to remove a 10 Commandments statue from the state Supreme Court, for which he lost his judgeship. And though he has kept himself out of the public eye for days, pro-Moore ads are running online and on TV and radio. President Trump recorded a robocall on his behalf after first encouraging people to vote for him on Friday night during a rally in Pensacola, Florida, close to the Alabama border.
Moore also gave an interview to a local political TV program on Sunday, “The Voice of Alabama Politics,” in which he was treated deferentially by the host, who suggested that the accusations against Moore stemmed from Moore’s stand on the 10 Commandments monument or opposition to same-sex marriage.
Moore’s first campaign event in nearly a week will take place on Monday night, when he is scheduled to speak at a “Drain the Swamp” rally in southeastern Alabama. Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, who stuck with Moore even when many national Republicans were dropping him, will also appear—an indicator that Moore’s allies are feeling optimistic about the outcome of the race.
“If Bannon and Trump show up late in this race then they probably are confident Judge Moore’s gonna win and they want to say we helped him get there,” Hyche said.
But there are still some key holdouts, including Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning to take aim at Moore.
“I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name. And I think a lot of people could do that,” Shelby said.
Shelby’s opposition, and that of other Republicans, has become part of the Jones side’s message. A radio and TV ad running in Alabama quotes an earlier statement by Shelby saying he wouldn’t support Moore, an effort to persuade Republican voters whom Jones must pick off in order to form a winning coalition.
While Moore’s side knows who his core supporters are and is counting on them to turn out, Jones has a trickier balancing act, trying to assemble a coalition that includes Republicans. Jones’s positions on abortion and same-sex marriage make him a no-go for the conservative voters Moore is counting on to boost him to victory.
Jones, who is known for having prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church, killing four young girls in Birmingham in 1963, has been heavily focused on African American voters. He needs significant black turnout in order to win. High-profile Democrats like former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker flew in to campaign with him this weekend, and Jones has been doing a lot of outreach in black churches and black neighborhoods.