Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican running for the U.S. Senate despite new sexual misconduct allegations, is facing backlash on a different front over a comment he made about slavery more than two months ago that resurfaced this week in a viral tweet.
Moore said in September that America was last great during a time when "families were strong," the United States "had a direction" and "we had slavery," drawing outcry from the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who viewed his sentiment as revisionist history or white supremacist.
The comment came at a rally in Florence, Alabama, when one of the only African Americans in the audience asked Moore when he thought America was last great, The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
"Moore acknowledged the nation's history of racial divisions, but said: 'I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction,'" the Times reported.
The comments resurfaced Thursday when Eric Columbus, who served in the Justice and Homeland Security departments during the Obama administration, tweeted a link to the Times' September story. He wrote, "Can't make this stuff up," receiving more than 8,000 retweets.
In response to the renewed attention on the comment, Moore's campaign told NBC News, "Judge Moore clearly made his point, which is that America is great when our families and our faith are strong. To suggest that Judge Moore condones slavery is recklessly malicious."
People lashed out on Twitter over Moore's September statement, including actress and activist Gabrielle Union and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
"What direction is a nation headed when families are ripped apart, women are routinely raped & bodies viciously tortured and mutilated," Booker wrote on Twitter.
Bernice King, daughter of the late Martin Luther King Jr., called Moore's statement "appalling" and his thinking "violent, inhumane."
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change called the statement "dangerous, insensitive, white supremacist."
Democrat Doug Jones, who Moore will face in the Dec. 12 special election, released a statement on his opponent's comment, calling it "disturbing" and part of his "terrible history on civil rights."
"With his extreme views and divisive rhetoric, Roy Moore would be incapable of representing all of the people of Alabama," Jones said.
Moore has a complicated record on civil rights.
When he was Alabama's chief justice in 2001, black organizations asked to erect a plaque of King's "I Have a Dream" speech at a state courthouse. Moore, who had already put up a monument for the Ten Commandments, denied the request, saying adding any monument would "diminish the very purpose of the Ten Commandments Monument," AL.com reported.
A federal judge instructed Moore in 2002 to remove his Ten Commandments monument, saying it favored one religion over others, The New York Times reported. Moore later put up the King monument, but he instead featured excerpts from the civil rights leader's 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail," AL.com reported.
But after Moore refused to follow the federal order to remove the Ten Commandments statue from the courthouse, he was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003.
In 2004, Moore opposed an amendment to Alabama's constitution that would have erased "segregation-era wording requiring separate schools for 'white and colored children' and... references to the poll taxes once imposed to disenfranchise blacks," the Washington Post reported. Opponents of the amendment argued it would lead to higher taxes in the state.
Voters elected Moore chief justice again in 2012, and Moore was later suspended for defying the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. He formally resigned from the bench in April 2017 and joined the race for Alabama's Senate seat.
"I'll stand for the rights and liberties of the people," Moore said announcing his candidacy, according to al.com. "My position has always been God first, family then country. I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again."
Since joining the Senate race, Moore, has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.
Two women have accused him of molesting them in the 1970s when one was 14 and one was 16 and Moore was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Others claim he pursued relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18. Another woman said Moore groped her in his law office in 1991.
Moore’s campaign has denied the allegations, calling them "outlandish attacks" by the Democratic party and The Washington Post, which first reported the accusations. Moore has said that the women would have reported the claims sooner if they were true.