WASHINGTON — Roy Moore, the Republican front-runner in next week’s special Senate election in Alabama, referred to "reds and yellows fighting" in a campaign speech, a video shows.
Moore, the ultra-conservative former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, lamented racial divisions in his remarks on Sunday.
"We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting," he said.
"Red" and "yellow" are widely recognized as racial slurs.
Video of Moore's speech was made public by a Republican tracking the race and first reported by The Hill. NBC News also obtained the video.
Responding to criticism about his remarks on Facebook late Monday, Moore quoted the popular Bible school song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children," written in the 1800's.
"Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel. If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God," Moore said.
Polls show Moore leading Sen. Luther Strange, the Republican appointed to the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this year, in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. Moore and Strange will hold their first debate Thursday.
The general election will not take place until December, but given Alabama's conservative lean, the winner on Tuesday is expected to become the state's next senator.
President Donald Trump is supporting Strange and will campaign for him on Saturday, though many conservative figures have lined up behind Moore, who is running as an anti-establishment firebrand.
Moore, who has suggested that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were punishment from God, often mixes religion and politics.
He was removed from the state’s top judicial post twice for doing so — the first time for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments he had installed on state property, and the second time for refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing same-sex marriage.