Trump's affection for Putin seems to be infectious.
Roy Moore, the controversial former judge and a leading contender in Alabama’s Senate race, has said “maybe Putin is right” and “more akin to me than I know” given the Russian leader’s stance on gay marriage.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere But Washington series, Moore also said that Ronald Reagan’s famous declaration about the Soviet Union being “the focus of evil in the modern world” might today be applied to the US.
“You could say that about America, couldn’t you?” he said. “We promote a lot of bad things.” Asked for an example, he replied: “Same-sex marriage.”
When it was pointed out to Moore that his arguments on gay rights and morality were the same as those of the Russian leader, he replied: “Well, maybe Putin is right.” He added: “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”
There is growing concern among Republican elites about the rising popularity of Putin among some conservatives. The party’s leaders remain steadfastly opposed to Putin, and recently forced Trump to reluctantly pass new sanctions against Russia. But the rank-and-file’s stance appears to be softening; polls suggest that Putin’s favorability ratings among Republicans have steadily increased in recent years.