The White House does not see “any parallels” between Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore’s controversial beliefs and those of President Donald Trump, said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday.
“I know where the president stands on specific issues, and I don’t see any parallels on that front,” Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing.
Moore became the GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama after winning a special election primary Tuesday night. But he’s long been known in state politics for his far-right fringe beliefs.
These include, for example, that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, that same-sex relationships are “an inherent evil,” and that the Sandy Hook massacre happened because America “forgot the law of God.”
The awkward exchange offered a glimpse into how difficult Moore’s candidacy is likely to be for Republicans. Trump is already under pressure from his base voters to actively support Moore’s campaign, as are Republicans in Congress.
Trump supported Moore’s opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, in Tuesday’s primary, but he called Moore to congratulate him after the results were in.
But as reporters unearth new information about Moore’s past statements, the former state supreme court justice risks becoming an albatross around the neck of the national Republican Party, which is entering the 2018 campaign cycle without significant legislative achievements.
Democrats who are challenging incumbent Republicans in swing districts next year can hardly wait to tie their opponents to Moore’s record of controversies, forcing Republicans to play defense, and focusing the attention of voters on Moore’s fringe views.
When Sanders was asked on Thursday whether, in Trump’s eyes, there were any beliefs a candidate could hold that would disqualify him from office, the White House press secretary refused to answer.
But Moore’s ascension to the Senate could force the White House to confront that very question.