(WAFF) - As the Alabama Senate race continues to heat up between Roy Moore and Doug Jones, the candidates addressed issues from different parts of the country on Tuesday. Jones was in Huntsville and Moore was in Washington, D.C. meeting with Senate Republicans.
As Jones met with Huntsville officials to talk about business and federal priorities, Moore fielded lots of questions from reporters in Washington as the Senate GOP welcomed him to their weekly gathering. Both men also weighed in on funding for CHIP, or the Children's Health insurance Program.
Jones spoke to members of the media at his Huntsville headquarters after meeting with the chamber of commerce.
"Fifty percent of the economy around here involves federal dollars and federal programs, so the next U.S. senator is going to be a very important voice for the Tennessee Valley, particularly the Huntsville/Madison County area," he said. "We heard a lot of different aspects and the priorities for up here, with federal programs, the arsenal and biosciences, all of the issues that I think are so important for jobs and expanding the economy here."
Jones said the area is doing very well but is dependent on federal programs and funding.
"We have grown so much in this area, particularly with our national defense research and sciences, so I think the point is to have a strong advocate in the U.S. Senate to continue to advocate for this area and for the federal dollars that flow into this area because it's so important for so many people," he said.
Jones said he hopes Congress will extend CHIP. Congress allowed the program, which covers about 150,000 children in two separate state programs, to lapse over the weekend. Funding lasts through March, and Jones said quick action is needed.
"It brings in about $260 million a year to the state and it's a lifeline for those children who need it so badly," he said.
Moore's camp released this statement on CHIP:
"While Doug Jones supports Obamacare, which raised insurance premiums through the roof for many Americans, Judge Moore supports patient-centered health care solutions fostered under the free enterprise systems that would put medical decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not government bureaucrats."
Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead said, "Alabama's CHIP program has funds to operate through March, according to reports by the Montgomery Advertiser. If elected senator on December 12th, Judge Moore looks forward to immediately reviewing fiscally-responsible options for CHIP's future funding."
Moore was welcomed by Senate Republicans to their weekly luncheon in Washington, D.C on Tuesday, and he was pressed by reporters. For the most part, he would not answer questions during the three-minute chase down the hallway by the press. Moore ended the chase by saying, "Reporters don't understand religious liberty, where it comes from. It comes from God, not from the Constitution."
There's yet to be a debate between the two candidates. Jones said the people of Alabama deserve at least one debate ahead of the Dec. 12 special election.
"We've said from the very beginning that we would love to debate. I don't think Mr. Moore really particularly wants a debate," Jones said. "We'll see where it goes, but we're ready to go anytime, anyplace."
Jones said he will continue getting the word out about what he calls the "kitchen table issues," which include important issues like health care.
"People want to keep their health care. They want affordable health care. They want to make sure prices come down, but they have insurance and can cover preexisting conditions. We need to save Medicaid to make sure our rural hospitals can stay open, and that's a serious problem in this state right now, jobs and unemployment," Jones said. "There's also an income gap between those on the ground working and those in the corporate boxes."
Over the next five to six weeks, Jones will continue going from one end of the state to the other, talking to voters about their concerns and what they want and what they're looking for in the next U.S. senator.
"We believe this election puts Alabama at a real crossroads on whether or not they want to see a divisive figure in Washington, D.C. to throw chaos into chaos or if they want somebody who can reach across the aisles and try to find that common ground that I think the people of this state are looking for," he said.
The Alabama Senate seat was left vacant when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general.
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