Trump refused to a say whether he’s comfortable with Moore serving in the U.S. Senate in response to a reporter who inquired about the candidate’s opposition to homosexuality and belief Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in public office.
“I’m going to be meeting with Roy sometime next week and we’re going to talk to him about a lot of different things, but I’ll be meeting with him,” Trump said. “He ran a very strong race. The people of Alabama — who I like very much, and they like me very much — but they like Roy, but we’ll be talking to them, and I can report back to then, OK?”
The reporter also posed the question to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was present at the news conference, but McConnell never responded to question and Trump proceeded to the next reporter.
Moore has built an virulently anti-LGBT reputation over his career as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court before he became a U.S. Senate candidate. In 2015, Moore urged his state to refuse to recognize the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality nationwide. A 2005 tape was unearthed over the course of his Senate run in which he said homosexuality should be illegal. (Such a law would be unconstitutional as a result of the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas).
At the anti-LGBT Values Voter Summit last week, Moore expressed his view Christian theology should take precedence over all government laws and the country must “go back to the basis of our morality, which is in God, not man.”
In the Republican primary, Trump supported not Moore, who was a favorite of the far-right and Steve Bannon, and instead supported incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.). Moore ended up beating Strange in the primary by a several points after which Trump tweeted Moore “sounds like a really great guy.”
Trump’s refusal to repudiate Moore falls short of the response White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered last month when she said the two “don’t agree” on LGBT issues.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, chided Trump for declining to condemn in a tweet containing a video of the exchange.
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) October 16, 2017
Moore is facing a run-off on Dec. 12 in Alabama to win the open U.S. Senate seat against Democratic nominee, Doug Jones, whom the Human Rights Campaign has endorsed. A Cygnal poll published on Thursday found Moore enjoys an eight-point lead in the race.