Alabama Senate GOP candidate Roy Moore appeared to use racially insensitive language to refer to Native Americans and Asian-Americans, according to footage obtained by The Hill newspaper on Monday.
The former Alabama Supreme Court justice, who is engaged in a heated primary runoff with Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), bemoaned the country’s racial divisions, including those between “reds” and “yellows,” during a campaign speech over the weekend.
“We were torn apart in the Civil War ― brother against brother, North against South, party against party. What changed?” Moore asked in the speech.
“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”
But Katie Frost, Moore’s communications director, said the judge’s comments were taken “completely out of context.”
″‘Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.’ This is the gospel,” Frost said. “If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God.”
The quotation she cited appeared to refer to a popular children’s Bible song.
Moore has led in most recent polls of the race, despite President Donald Trump and much of the GOP establishment throwing their support behind his opponent. On Saturday, the president announced he is planning to campaign for Strange in Alabama this week.
Moore, a staunch conservative known nationally for his refusal to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, has made a litany of controversial statements over the years. Earlier this year, for example, he suggested that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the country had distanced itself from God.
Moore’s tenure as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was also controversial. He was twice removed from his position for flouting the law ― the first time in 2003 over the Ten Commandments monument issue, and the second time in 2016, for telling state judges to refuse to comply with the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Strange’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
This story has been updated to include comments from Moore’s communications director.