Senate surrogates talk issues at AARP event

Published 12:44 am Friday, November 3, 2017

Representatives of the Republican and Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate shared their candidates’ positions and took questions in an AARP-sponsored forum at the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday evening.

Edward Miller, a field representative for Democrat Doug Jones, said he believes this election is an important moment.

“It is an important moment in the way we talk to each other, both in our local communities and in who we want to be as a country,” Miller said. “The reason I support Doug Jones is that he will not add to the noise, chaos and judgment that appears in everyday life.”

Instead, he said, Jones is pursuing the office because he actually wants the job. Jones is a former U.S. Attorney.

“He doesn’t want to use one room for another,” he said. “There is a traditional separation of church and state. He knows how to keep a wall there.

“Am I a Christian? Yes. So is Doug,” he said. “The problem with not keeping them separated is what happens when it’s not your religion and they get more people?

“This election matters because Doug really does want to do the job to help people,” he said. “This guy is a regular person. He’s had a life of integrity. For him, this office is not a stepping stone, and not a grand stand. ”

Rich Hobson, campaign manager for Roy Moore, was effusive in his praise of Andalusia, where he lived from 1987-1992. Hobson said he met Moore when Moore was first elected circuit judge, and Moore later hired him to lead the Administrative Office of Courts.

“His record has two marks,” Hobson said. “One was the Ten Commandments monument. He stood up for that and he was removed from office. The true issue there was the acknowledgement of God. He was removed (from office) for standing up for and acknowledging God. If you’ve gotta have something against you, that’s one thing that’s OK.”

Hobson said the second mar came after Moore sought the chief justice office again.

“It was traditional marriage and Judge Roy Moore stood tall,” Hobson said. “He was suspended.”

Hobson said Moore believes in his principles, and that would be important in the Senate.

Moore is also pro-life, pro-military, and for strict borders. He supports Trump’s wall, he said, but wants the military to go ahead and protect the borders.

“He is for repealing Obamacare,” Hobson said. “That is an experiment that failed.”

Steve Hubbard asked both representatives about health care.

Miller said Jones “wants to fix it, not start over.”

“If it is repealed, 32 million of your fellow Americans will lose coverage,” he said. “That’s the whole state of Alabama several times over, simply because it sounds good. (Doug Jones) believes there are options that should be explored,” adding that repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect the state’s “most delicate and most vulnerable.”

Hobson said Moore thinks restrictions on insurance companies should be lessened, and the ACA should be repealed.

Pushed in a follow-up question on possible reforms, Hobson said Trump is talking about repealing and replacing the ACA.

“Right now, Judge Moore does not want to replace,” he said.

Former Covington County Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan, a member of Moore’s campaign team, asked the candidates’ positions on marriage.

Miller said, “I don’t know this for a fact, but I believe that if two consenting adults are in love and want to get married, my guy says, ‘Who am I to judge?’ ”

Hobson quickly countered, “My guy says traditional marriage.”

Sheri Powell asked if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the case that made abortion legal, what women will do.

Hobson said, “Go to place of medical care. Seek adoptions.”

He said Moore believes abortion is murder.

“A life will be saved,” he said.

Asked again what would happen to women, who might again seek back-alley solutions to unwanted pregnancies, Hobson said, “There might be other avenues of help.”

Miller said, “My guy, against all advice, has said he believes women are not mere vessels for childbirth.

“Everyone hates abortion,” he said. “Pretending people don’t (hate it) is like saying you don’t support the military. Everybody supports the military. But, my guy says, Sweet Lord, if you gotta do it, it’s between you and whoever it is you answer to with your soul. It is not my role to tell you what to do with your body full stop.”

The election, when Alabamians will decide who will complete the unfinished U.S. Senate term of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is Tues., Dec. 12.

About 25 people attended the forum. Bill Hawkins, who organized the event for AARP, said he was pleased with the turnout. AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.