U.S. President Donald Trump is sending automated telephone calls to Alabama voters in support of Republican Roy Moore in Tuesday's Senate election, saying, "All of our progress will be stopped cold" if Democrat Doug Jones wins.
"Roy Moore is the guy we need to pass our Make America Great Again agenda," Trump said in the robocalls. "I need Alabama to go vote for Roy Moore."
Trump ignored the key issue in the special election, allegations by two women, now in their 50s, that Moore sexually abused them when they were teenagers and he was a local prosecutor in his early 30s.
Trump said Jones, a former federal prosecutor, would turn out to be "a puppet" of the top two congressional Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Trump said Jones "will vote with the Washington liberals every single time."
"We need Roy voting for us," Trump said.
Meantime, former President Barack Obama recorded an automated call for Jones, saying, "This one's serious." He urged Democrats to "get out and vote," telling them, "You can't sit it out."
Obama praised Jones as "a fighter for equality, for progress" and a "champion for justice."
Jones told supporters at a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday, "We know who we are, Alabama. This is an election to tell the world who we are, and what we stand for."
The 70-year-old Moore said in a local interview published Sunday, "I never molested anyone. I don't know why they're saying it, but it's not true."
Moore is planning an election-eve rally with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, an alt-right political operative supporting Trump who is at odds with Democratic lawmakers in Washington as well as establishment Republicans opposed to Moore's candidacy.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate. Tuesday's election will decide who fills the remaining three years left on the term of Jeff Sessions, who resigned to join Trump's Cabinet as attorney general, the country's top law enforcement position. If Jones wins, the Republican advantage would be cut to a 51-49 margin.
Surveys of voters in the state have at various times shown both Moore and Jones leading in the contest, but a Fox News poll conducted in the last few days said Jones has pulled ahead by a 50-to-40 percent margin.
Alabama's senior senator, Republican Richard Shelby, said Sunday the state "deserves better" than electing Moore.
Shelby told CNN he has already cast an absentee ballot, writing in the name of "a distinguished Republican" he declined to name.
"I'd rather see the Republican win, but I would hope that Republican would be a write-in," Shelby said.
"I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I’d rather see another Republican in there, and I’m going to stay with that story," Shelby said. "I'm not going to vote for the Democrat. I didn't vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn't vote for Roy Moore."
One of Moore's accusers was 14 at the time she said Moore sexually abused her. Other women say Moore pursued them for dates when they were teenagers, but Shelby said the "tipping point" for him was the allegation made by the then-14-year-old. "That was enough for me," he said.
Trump in recent days has fully embraced Moore, ignoring the allegations of sexual improprieties against Moore and the fact that Moore was twice deposed as an Alabama state supreme court judge for refusing to adhere to federal court rulings.
To no avail, numerous key Republican leaders in Washington have called for Moore to end his candidacy and said they will try to expel him from the Senate if he wins Tuesday's vote.
Dean Young, Moore's chief strategist, predicted Sunday, "Judge Moore's going to go to Washington. Judge Moore's going to win, and I highly doubt there's going to be a Senate investigation."