BIDEN DOUG SHOULDER

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, center-right, places his hand on Doug Jones, center-left, during Biden's speech endorsing Jones for his bid for U.S. Senate.
Photo by Patrick Johnson / Student Media Production Manager

Bella Tylicki, Community Reporter

“We want Doug! We want Doug!” the eager crowd chanted.

Attendees eagerly awaited the arrival of United States Senate candidate Doug Jones and his noteworthy endorser, former Vice President Joe Biden, for a rally supporting the Democrat and his bid for election Tuesday, Oct. 3.

The ballroom at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex buzzed with anticipation. To pass time, a group of students initiated the electric slide to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”

Nearly half the crowd grasped campaign signs reading “courage ends hate.” This theme permeated the rally, a nod to Jones’ accomplishments as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

Friends and colleagues commenced the rally with testaments to Jones’ dedication to education, health care, ethics, equality and justice.

“Doug Jones has always fought for those who need a fighter and spoke for those who need a voice,” said Beth Clayton, a first generation college graduate and former president of the Alabama College Democrats.

This sentiment was echoed by many in the crowd.

“In my own 27-year career as an attorney, I have never heard a single bad word about [Jones]. How many lawyers can you say that about?” quipped fellow Alabama attorney, Barry Parker.

Jones’ own campaign staff positioned the Alabama Democrat as a candidate of the people.

“It’s past due time that someone takes care of Alabama,” said Garrett Stephens, president of the UAB Graduate Student Government Association and the central Alabama field director for Jones’ campaign.

Alabama House Minority Whip, Anthony Daniels, named the things Jones will fight for such as “good-paying jobs,” better public education and affordable college and health care.

Jones and Biden finally took the stage, and the crowd roared.

Jones career has been highlighted by the prosecution and conviction of the bomber of a Birmingham abortion clinic and the two Klansmen responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

“I have fought for civil rights. I have fought for women’s rights. I have done everything I can to fight for equality for every person in the state of Alabama,” Jones said.

He gave hope to the pessimists in the room, reminding them that he has succeeded before with the odds stacked against him. Since he since he was able to settle the 40-year-old case of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, he believes he will be able to win as a Democrat in Alabama.

“When you’re on the right side of history and the right side of justice, you can do anything,” Jones said.

He referenced opponent Roy Moore’s twice-removal from the bench of Alabama Chief Justice.

“I want to make sure when I’m elected, that I carry out my term,” Jones remarked to applause.

Before handing over the mic, Jones put on a pair of aviator sunglasses, Biden’s iconic accessory, saying that Biden has served as a role model for him in many ways.

Biden flashed a smile and approached the stand to a deafening roar from the crowd.

Much of his speech was story-telling, sharing the wisdom he gained serving as a Senator for 36 years and vice president for eight.

He juxtaposed the political climates of the modern day with when he was first elected in 1973. He said it was a time when politics where characterized by democratic discussion instead of bigoted polarization.

Biden said that since his time as a law student, Jones has treated people with dignity, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race or gender. According to Biden, who has stumped for candidates in every U.S. state, few candidates have integrity and courage and a sense of honor and duty like Jones.

“There is political gold in being honest and straightforward,” said Biden, claiming Jones will bring that gold back to Alabama. “Doug knows Alabama. He knows your heart, and he will never let you down.”

Biden also spoke of Jones’ résumé, harkening to what is arguably Jones’ most championed prosecution.

“For 40 years, justice had gone undone,” Biden said, referring to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. “As worthy as it is when they’re honored or recognized, it brings it all back like it happened yesterday. Doug helped remove 40 years of stain and pain from [Alabama].”

Biden provided some focus for Jones’ platform, endorsing it as a way to resist the current political climate.

“We don’t need another extremist up in the United States Senate,” Biden said. “This guy gets it. Let’s get him in the Senate. When he wins this race, it will send ripples throughout the country, but don’t do it for that reason. Do it for Alabama.”

The special election, which will take place Dec. 12, pits Jones against Republican Roy Moore.

Bella Tylicki can be reached at btylicki@uab.edu and on Twitter @_belty_.

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