While making the case for unifying the electorate, a candidate for Alabama's open Senate seat ended up saying something pretty divisive.
Roy Moore, a former chief justice on the state Supreme Court, was speaking against racial, political and other divisions at a rally in Florence, Ala., on Sunday when he inserted two words that have been historically used as slurs.
“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party,” he said. “What changed?
“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” Moore added. “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.”
“Red” has historically been a slang term for Native Americans that has increasingly gone out of favor. Some view it as offensive and so inappropriate that there's been a movement to rename sports teams that incorporate the term into its mascots, such as the Washington Redskins.
“Yellow” is a derogatory term for East Asians that was common in the late 1800s among the white working class in California, who feared Asian immigrants would take their jobs.
Moore put out a statement on Twitter later Monday hoping to provide more context for his comments:
"'Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world,'" he tweeted. "This is the Gospel. If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God."
Moore, a culture warrior who prides himself on his socially conservative Christian values, has had a few missteps over the course of his campaign.
In a July interview with local radio channel WVNN, Moore was stumped on what the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is. After radio host Dale Jackson asked him for his opinion on the immigration program, which is designed to prevent young immigrants in the country illegally from being deported, Moore said: “Pardon? The 'dreamer' program?”
“No,” he replied when the host asked him whether he knew what dreamers were.
And in an April policy meeting, Moore appeared not to know what national right to work is.
CNN uncovered that just last year, Moore said he doesn't believe former president Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen.
“My personal belief is that he wasn't, but that's probably over and done in a few days, unless we get something else to come along,” he said.
President Trump's endorsement of Moore's opponent, sitting Sen. Luther Strange, to fill the seat previously occupied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not appear to have hurt Moore yet. And neither have his own words.
Recent polling in the last month shows Moore with an edge over Strange, despite the latter having the support of the state's Republican establishment. But we're in an anti-establishment climate — and right now, Trump is viewed as establishment.
“Roy Moore is a political phenomenon like Donald Trump,” Montgomery-based GOP consultant Brent Buchanan previously told the Fix. “Strange is struggling to gain traction against the insurgent-like approach of Moore and his fervent supporters.”
The runoff is Sept. 26, and the general election is in December, which the Republicans are expected to take since Democrats haven't won a Senate seat in Alabama in a quarter-century — unless perhaps Moore says something voters view as too offensive.