WASHINGTON ― A pro-Trump super PAC is encouraging Alabama voters to support Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore because, it says on Facebook, Democratic rival Doug Jones is a liberal puppet of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who supports abortion and NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.
America First Action launched a $200,000 digital advertising campaign on Dec. 6. The digital ad buy came alongside a $500,000 television ad campaign and a direct-mail campaign costing nearly $400,000. Unlike the television ad campaign, the Facebook ads are not publicly posted to the group’s official Facebook page. Instead, they are seen only by the voters targeted to receive the message.
HuffPost found four different Facebook ads exhorting conservative voters in Alabama to back Moore. Jones’ pro-abortion rights position was the most common message across these non-public ads. The second most common theme was that the former prosecutor supported NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.
The super PAC entered the special election in its final week after President Donald Trump officially endorsed Moore’s candidacy. Trump initially endorsed appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the Republican Party primary, but Moore defeated Strange. Already unpopular among party elites both in Alabama and nationally, Moore was accused by multiple women of either hitting on them, dating them or molesting them while they were teenagers.
The Republican National Committee pulled out of the race for nearly a month after the accusations were reported. With Trump’s backing, however, the RNC and the pro-Trump super PAC re-entered the race to back Moore ahead of the election, which is Tuesday.
“We fight for our unborn,” one ad that had been viewed 201,000 times and shared 545 times as of Monday said. “We honor our Vets every time we play the Nation Anthem. But not Doug Jones… Jones is so liberal he supports abortion even at 20 weeks, when you can hear a baby’s heartbeat. Jones says he supports the players who kneel for the Anthem. GO VOTE December 12.” A very similar ad with an image of the Alabama flag was viewed 138,000 times and shared over 400 times as of Monday.
Another ad leads with an image of a kneeling football player and says, “In ALABAMA we honor our Vets every time we play the Nation Anthem… But not Doug Jones. Jones says he supports the players who kneel for the Anthem. GO VOTE December 12.” This ad was viewed 230,000 times and shared over 700 times as of Monday.
“We certainly don’t want to have a liberal Democrat that’s controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” a third ad says. (Schumer is Senate minority leader.) “We don’t want to have that for ALABAMA.” This ad was viewed 126,000 times and shared 928 times as of Monday.
America First Action will not disclose most of its donors to the public until after the election. The only reported donation to the super PAC is $200,000 in April from Ronald Weiser, head of the Michigan Republican Party.