During an MSNBC interview on Wednesday morning, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) was asked to share his thoughts about Roy Moore, the homophobic and Islamophobic extremist who won a Republican primary election on Tuesday to fill an Alabama U.S. Senate seat, and whom Trump quickly embraced on Wednesday.
“As a New Yorker, remember, Roy Moore is the guy who said 9/11 was God’s punishment for perverseness,” the host reminded Reed.
Reed — a Trump ally who stood by the president even after he defended the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia last month — awkwardly tried to dodge the question.
“Well, my hope is [Moore] honors his commitment to the people of Alabama to get things done for the people back home,” Reed said.
The host pushed back, asking Reed, “You’re not rattled by those views?”
Reed again tried to dodge.
“Well, you know, obviously, the concern that he has expressed, and the, ah, rhetoric that he was expressed — I’ll let him answer to that question,” Reed said. “But the bottom line — he has to govern, just like we have to govern. We’re going to be held accountable by the people that we represent, and now it’s time to deliver for them.”
A short time later, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) joined MSNBC and was also asked about Moore.
“We talked about some of the things that [Moore] says he believes, like that homosexual conduct should be illegal, that 9/11 was God punishing U.S. perverseness, a personal belief President Obama was not born in the U.S. — if Roy Moore ends up winning in December, will you welcome him to the Senate? Do you have an issue with any of these things he’s saying?” the host asked him.
Hoeven dodged, saying “I haven’t had a chance to look through all of those things,” before adding that to him, “the key is going to be… what he does when he comes here.”
“Is he going to join with us and get the things done that are going to help our country and the American people?” Hoeven said. “Let’s give him a chance.”
While Reed and Hoeven hedged about Moore, Trump described him on Wednesday morning as “a really great guy who ran a fantastic race.”
Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race. He will help to #MAGA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
Trump had publicly endorsed Moore’s primary opponent, Luther Strange, and campaigned on his behalf, but quickly deleted tweets in which he expressed support for Strange after Moore’s victory.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, tweeted on Tuesday that he was thrilled Moore is running on Trump’s agenda.
Congratulations Roy Moore! We are thrilled you ran on the #MAGA agenda & we are for you!
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) September 27, 2017
Moore’s extreme views will surely be something for which Republicans will have to answer between now and December, when he’ll compete in the general election against Democrat Doug Jones. If Moore’s refusal to say whether he thinks homosexuality should be punished by death isn’t enough to disqualify him from being embraced by Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), then what view would be too far?