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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – WHNT News 19 in conjunction with our partners at Reckon by invited both of Alabama’s US Senate candidates to participate in what would have been a live, commercial-free debate. The Doug Jones campaign accepted, but the Roy Moore campaign has declined.

We at WHNT News 19 believe that public debates give voters a chance to carefully consider who represents them. A seat in the US Senate comes with immense power. It should also come with immense accountability.

Every politician, no matter their stances, party or position, should be open to conversations and challenges, even from those who might disagree.

We hope, even in a fiercely divided political climate, that candidates will remain willing to engage with the issues and each other.

As such, we went to great lengths to make our offer to both campaigns appealing.

We did not specify a format, allowing room to work with both campaigns on a mutually agreeable style. We intended to integrate questions from audience members and people following along digitally.

We offered six different date possibilities between November 27th and December 7th.

However, it was not enough to convince Roy Moore to meet Doug Jones in a public forum.

A spokesperson for the Jones campaign issued the following statement in response to the news:

Roy Moore has been hiding from the voters, from the media and from his record for weeks and now refuses to take the same stage with Doug in a debate. Doug has said repeatedly he was willing to debate Roy Moore anytime, anywhere, about Moore’s lack of support for Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and about the more than $1 million Moore took from his foundation.

We asked Roy Moore’s campaign to explain why they declined our invitation to debate.  Campaign chair Bill Armistead sent us this statement in response:

While we appreciate the invitation from WHNT, the differences between the two candidates are crystal clear.  Judge Roy Moore believes in cutting taxes.  Doug Jones wants to raise your taxes. Judge Moore believes we should cut spending and balance the budget.  Doug Jones believes in putting America in more debt. Judge Moore wants Obamacare repealed. Doug Jones wants to expand it.  Judge Moore wants to rebuild the military. Doug Jones supported an administration that slashed our defense spending and put American security at risk.  Judge Moore wants to secure our borders. Doug Jones wants open borders and supports amnesty.  Judge Moore wants to protect our most vulnerable like our seniors and the unborn, but Doug Jones has spent his career defending violent criminals and he supports partial-birth abortion.  There has never been a clearer choice: one candidate will stand up for Alabama and the other candidate will expand federal tyranny.   Judge Moore will continue to take his message directly to the voters of Alabama.

The Jones campaign took exception to the Moore campaign’s remarks and added:

Roy Moore is an embarrassment and bad for Alabama. He continues to peddle lies, tries to divide people, and refuses to answer questions about everyday issues affecting Alabamians.