Roy Moore, the fiery Alabama Senate candidate who is considered the frontrunner in Tuesday’s closely watched Republican runoff election, pulled a gun out of his pocket at a campaign rally in Fairhope Monday night, in an effort to show he believed in the Second Amendment.
Wearing a cowboy hat and leather vest, the 70-year-old lawyer, politician, and former Alabama chief justice balked at the claim he was against the right to bear arms.
“It’s been very hard for my wife and myself to weather two, nearly three months of negative ads that we couldn’t answer with money because we didn’t have it,” Moore said, in video obtained by NBC News. “Ads that were completely false, that I don’t believe in the Second Amendment.”
He then pulled a small revolver out of his pocket and waved it with a flourish. “I believe in the Second Amendment,” Moore said as the crowd cheered him on.
Tuesday’s election has become divisive for conservatives. Moore — a conservative Christian who stands against gay marriage, for the public display of the Ten Commandments, and who has spent his campaign targeting “the establishment” in Washington, D.C. — is running against Luther Strange, whom President Donald Trump appointed to the seat in February after Jeff Sessions vacated to become attorney general.
The campaign has put Trump at odds with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who argued that Moore is a better fit for Trump’s “populist, nationalist, conservative movement” during his speech at Moore’s south Alabama rally on Monday (Brexit leader Nigel Farage and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson were there, too).
However, Bannon attempted to downplay any friction with his former boss.
“We did not come here to defy Donald Trump, we came here to praise and honor him,” Bannon said, per NBC News. “A vote for Judge Roy Moore is a vote for Donald J. Trump.”
Bannon also lashed out at the negative ads funded by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that Republican “elites” had put millions of dollars into the Alabama race “to destroy a man,” the Chicago Tribune reported, thinking that voters were “a bunch of morons” and “rubes.”
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Meanwhile, Trump continued to campaign for Strange — who is trailing in the polls by about 25,000 votes, CBS News reported — even calling into to an Alabama radio show on Monday to urge voters to get behind him.
“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 71-year-old former Celebrity Apprentice host added that Moore would have “a hard time” beating Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the general election.
Trump also sent a series of tweets in support of Strange.
Vice President Mike Pence, for his part, headed out to Birmingham to campaign in an airplane hangar alongside Strange.
“I’m here tonight to say I stand with Luther. I stand with President Donald Trump — and I will always stand for our national anthem,” Pence said Monday, according to CBS News, nodding to Trump’s headline-making attacks of athletes across the country.
“Tomorrow, there’s a lot on the line,” added Strange, per CBS News. “For the vice president and the president of the United States to come here on my behalf means more than I can possibly say.”