Trump, Pence, Bannon campaign in tight Alabama Senate race

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, left, and Sen. Luther Strange shake hands after the debate on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Sen. Luther Strange and challenger Roy Moore made their final push Monday to sway voters with the help of big-name supporters ahead of Alabama’s Republican runoff for U.S. Senate.

Moore and Strange are locked in a heated battle for the GOP nomination for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat in the U.S. Senate. Moore, the firebrand jurist, led Strange in the first round of voting, despite Strange’s support from President Donald Trump and allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have put millions of dollars into the contentious Alabama race.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to stop Monday in Birmingham to urge support for Strange.

Trump, who held a Friday rally in Huntsville for Strange, continued his efforts Monday, calling a popular Alabama radio show to campaign. Trump predicted that Moore, whom he mistakenly called “Ray,” would have a “hard time” in the December election against Democrat Doug Jones.

“Luther Strange is going to be a great senator. He already has, and he has already helped me,” Trump said on the “Rick & Bubba” radio show.

The race has pitted Trump against some of his former advisers, including strategist Steve Bannon, who will speak at a south Alabama rally for Moore on Monday night, along with “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson.

Strange, Alabama’s former attorney general, was appointed to the seat in February. He has been criticized for accepting the appointment from a scandal-battered then-Gov. Robert Bentley when Strange was in charge of public corruption investigations

Moore has a large following among state evangelical voters, after being removed from office for his actions in stands against gay marriage and for the public display of the Ten Commandments.

While emphasizing his support of Trump, Moore has lashed out at the McConnell forces he said were spending millions of dollars to try to secure the race for Strange while refusing to enact Trump’s agenda.

“I want to tell you, the people of Alabama see through this. They see what Washington is trying to do and they’re upset,” Moore said in last week’s debate.

Moore led Strange by 25,000 vote in the crowded August primary and runoff polls have shown him leading, or in a dead heat, with Strange.

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