Roy Moore, the former Alabama chief justice who lost his 2017 bid for the U.S. Senate, is back on the ballot, and he’s urging Republican primary voters to keep in mind that “I have stood … against the removal of God from society—and the Ten Commandments—and I have stood against same-sex marriage and for traditional marriage.”
That statement came near the end of a 40-minute interview Moore gave to Birmingham’s WTVM-TV, a broadcast affiliate of NBC, which posted the video on Monday. While the interviewer questioned Moore on a wide range of policy areas, Moore’s answers repeatedly pointed back to the nation’s “moral problem.” And the answer to the nation’s moral problem, he said, is having the country and its schools turn back to God. The interview included echoes of a speech he made last fall to the Huntsville Republican Men’s Group, when he said America needed to return to the days when abortion and sodomy were illegal and public schools had morning “devotionals.”
In response to a question about gun violence, Moore argued that “gun violence is not a proper term” because people, not guns, are responsible for violence. And stricter gun laws, he said, are not the solution to the nation’s moral problem.
“Congress has never been good on moral problems, if you will, and solving those moral problems is very simple,” Moore said. “You turn back to the God and the basis of religion upon which this nation was founded.” In answering a question about safety and security in the nation’s schools, he said, “Well, one thing they should do is teach the laws of God.”
Moore also emphasized his states’ rights view of the Constitution, saying it is not the business of the federal government to make schools secure or oversee the elimination of discrimination in schools in areas like discipline and hiring. “I think the segregation issues have been addressed,” he declared.
On environmental protection, Moore said clean air and water are being taken care of “privately” and by the states. “Environmental protection is just another way for the big government to interfere,” he added.
Moore also said that state trial judges’ interpretation of federal constitutional issues is just as authoritative as rulings of federal appeals courts.
Moore, who has argued that faithful Muslims are not fit to serve in Congress, blamed divisiveness on the country’s lack of acknowledgment of God:
Divisiveness is a big problem in our society. We need to go back to the recognition that we’re one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We forget when we forget God and exclude God from the conversation, you take away, and you create divisiveness. Hatred, divisiveness, that comes from a lack of realization that you’re created by an Almighty God.
When we’re a nation that thinks we can’t acknowledge God, we forget what we’re founded upon. We forget the meaning of the First Amendment. And certainly we need to go back to that.
When asked by the interviewer the things on which he would not compromise, Moore said, “I will not compromise on the acknowledgment of God. I think the courts started making law. This same-sex marriage is not a law made by our Constitution or by our legislature. It was made by courts. And courts have no business making law.”
At times, it sounded as if Moore envisioned himself in an even higher office than the U.S. Senate. In talking about his military experience, Moore said, “you need somebody with military experience in command—or in charge of the Senate. You need somebody that’s gone through these things.” The other candidates in the Senate race have not served in a war, Moore said. “I’ve been trained as a military leader – a highly regarded military leader. And that’s one of the chief jobs as the president.”
Moore is clearly still angry about his 2017 loss, which he attributed to a “disinformation campaign” that he said amounted to federal government interference in his race. He likened sexual misconduct allegations against him to those made against Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, a comparison he has made before. He called on the New York Times and Washington Post to release their copies of an “after-action report” on “Project Birmingham”—a group that reportedly spread misinformation in the 2017 Alabama Senate election—repeating a call he made last April.
Moore also appears to be bitter about his treatment at the hands of Republican leaders who distanced themselves from his 2017 campaign, portraying their refusal to back him as stealing the election:
I can win. They know I can win. In fact, I did win, until Richard Shelby came out and put out that people should not go to the polls and vote or should vote for another candidate. Over 22,000 voted for another candidate besides the Democrat, and I lost by less than 21,000. So it was ridiculous. They stole the election then, and they’re still trying to steal the election by keeping me out of Washington. I have opposed the establishment, and they do not like it. And they have vowed to keep me out.
Regarding election security in general, he said the biggest threat to voters is “letting illegals have drivers’ licenses.”
Moore said he opposed the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and he treaded lightly when asked about Trump tweeting last year that Moore probably couldn’t win the Senate race. He suggested that Trump was being pressured by Washington insiders. “They’re driving the president because they have the power in the Senate to remove him,” Moore said. (It was one of a couple indicators that the interview was conducted before the Senate impeachment trial.) “And he’s subject to forces up there in Washington, and with all deference to the president, I can win.”
It’s worth remembering that while much of the Republican establishment wanted nothing to do with Moore, religious-right groups and right-wing activists rallied around his 2017 campaign, pouring money into last-minute ads and traveling to Alabama to hold a press conference backing Moore and attacking his critics. After Moore lost the 2017 race, Trump-promoting “prophet” Lance Wallnau criticized Christian voters for “giving the devil a free pass” by not supporting Moore and warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “You’re going down.”
Right Wing Watch noted in November:
For the record, it was Moore’s unorthodox view of the Constitution—notably his refusal as a state judge to abide by federal court rulings on church-state issues and marriage equality—that got him ousted twice as the state’s chief justice. Moore has been supported by Christian nationalists and embraced by some of the country’s most extreme anti-abortion activists.
One of the primary funders of Moore’s political career has been Michael Peroutka, a Christian Reconstructionist and neo-Confederate activist. Peroutka has also been a backer of Moore protégé and current Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker, who has called on state courts to actively push the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
Recent polling puts Moore far back in the crowded primary race, in which former senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions is favored to win the opportunity to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. The primary will be held on March 3.