A Nevada brothel owner who won a surprise victory in a Republican primary has attributed his support among some evangelical voters to what he called "the Trump Train."
Dennis Hof, who owns multiple brothels and stars in an adult reality TV series, defeated Republican state lawmaker and hospital executive James Oscarson in the GOP primary last month.
In a recent interview with Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton of The Hill program "Rising," Hof attributed his support among certain evangelicals to President Donald Trump's successful courting of the key Republican voting bloc in 2016.
"It's the Trump train. It's the movement," explained Hof, who noted that while no one thought any women or Christians would vote for Trump in 2016 after his sexist 2005 remarks were made public, tens of millions still did.
"They did the same thing for Hof. Because I can't be bossed, I can't be bought."
When he asked if he thought he could have succeeded before Trump won in 2016, Hof said "absolutely not," and added that Trump "paved the way" for his state primary victory.
"He paved the way and I am glad he did it, because my goal is to knock out the Republicans in name only. I hate liars, I hate hypocrites, and I hate these paper blade politicians," said Hof.
Hof acknowledged that some of his evangelical supporters have expressed discomfort over his brothel businesses, but then added that "once they meet me ... they understand that I'm going to work for them, I'm not going to work for special interests."
During his interview, Hof did not express open support for any socially conservative agenda items such as defunding Planned Parenthood or abolishing the Johnson Amendment.
Among the evangelical support for Hof was local pastor Victor Fuentes, who while critical of Hof's sex industry ties, nevertheless expressed thanks that Hof won the primary.
"People want to know how an evangelical can support a self-proclaimed pimp," said Fuentes to Reuters in an interview last month.
"We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that."
However, conservative Christian leaders like Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America took to social media to express their disgust at Hof's win.
"I want to hurl," tweeted Nance last month when learning of evangelical support for Hof. "People really? Don't support HIM!"