White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that there is no “parallel” between President Trump's views on homosexuality and those of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Sanders did not directly condemn views Moore has expressed, such as that homosexual conduct should be outlawed or that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim, should not be allowed to sit in Congress.
“We don't agree” with such views, Sanders said, but she declined to address the subject in depth.
“I have not taken a deep dive on every comment that the senator — or the Senate nominee — has made, but I certainly know where the president stands on those issues and wouldn’t see any parallel between the two of them on that front.”
Asked whether there are “any beliefs a candidate could hold or actions a candidate could take” that would cost that Republican an endorsement from Trump, Sanders sought to close the discussion.
“I'm not going to get into every potential hypothetical that any potential candidate may or may not have over the course of the time that the president is the president,” she said. “I know where the president stands on specific issues. That's what I can speak about. Not somebody else that's a candidate for another office that's not here.”
It was the first time Trump's spokeswoman had been asked in detail about where Moore's views line up with the president's.
“In terms of whether or not I’m going to get into the back-and-forth over another candidate, we’re here to focus on the president, the president’s agenda,” Sanders said.
As a candidate, Trump cast himself as a social liberal seeking to move the Republican Party left on gay rights.
“People are people to me, and everyone should be protected,” he told The Washington Post in a May 2016 interview.
But as president, Trump has approved a ban on transgender people serving in the military, and his administration has argued against gay rights in the workplace.
Trump backed Moore's opponent, interim Sen. Luther Strange, in the Republican primary to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump had campaigned for Strange last Friday and mused during his remarks that he may have “made a mistake” in backing Strange.
Moore won handily Tuesday, and Trump has now embraced him. Sanders's father, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, backed Moore in the primary.
Moore is a former state judge who believes that God’s law can invalidate federal court decisions and made that premise the mainstay of his campaign. His victory was a warning to Trump and the Republican leadership about the continued potency of conservative grass-roots anger.
“We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore said in his victory speech. “We have become a nation that has distanced ourselves from the very foundation.”
In three books, Moore has described his legal opinion that the United States was founded as a Christian nation that answered to the “laws of nature and nature’s God.”
As a judge, Moore refused to obey a federal court order to remove from his courthouse a monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed to underscore his belief. He was removed from his job as a result.
In a 2002 legal opinion, he described homosexual conduct as “an inherent evil,” and he said during an interview that homosexual conduct should “be illegal.”
He has argued that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage should not be considered the rule of law. He was suspended from Alabama’s court a second time for defying the higher court’s marriage decision, and he later decided to retire from the bench.
Moore is now the front-runner to win the seat in the Dec. 12 general election. He will face Democratic candidate Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney in Alabama.