GREENSBORO, N.C. — Former President Donald Trump likened North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to Martin Luther King Jr. in an endorsement Saturday, despite the gubernatorial candidate’s long history of controversial comments about homosexuality, religion and victims of sexual abuse.

“This is Martin Luther King on steroids,” Trump said of Robinson at a pre-Super Tuesday rally in North Carolina.

“I told that to Mark. I said, I think you’re better than Martin Luther King. I think you are Martin Luther King times two,” he continued as he offered Robinson his endorsement in the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday.

Robinson has been a vocal supporter of the former president and first endorsed Trump for re-election in June while speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C.

Robinson, a pastor, is a polarizing figure, catching harsh criticism for his past comments about women, Muslims, Jewish people and members of the LGTBQ community.

The favorite to secure the North Carolina gubernatorial Republican nomination has, for example, insinuated that homosexuality is a stepping stone to pedophilia, harshly ridiculed school shooting survivors who promoted gun-control reform, encouraged forms of Holocaust denialism and used antisemitic tropes.

In October, Robinson insisted he was not antisemitic and distanced himself from some of his former social media posts.

“There have been some Facebook posts that were poorly worded on my part,” he said in remarks before the state Legislature, adding: “There is no antisemitism standing here in front of you.”

In 2021, Robinson faced calls to resign for saying, “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.”

In response, he said he would “fight for” the rights of the LGBTQ community.

“Let me be clear: I will fight for and protect the rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBTQ community to express themselves however they want,” he said at the time. “That is their right as Americans, and I don’t think the government has any role in telling them otherwise. However, the idea that our children should be taught about concepts of transgenderism and be exposed to sexually explicit materials in the classrooms is abhorrent.”

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday.Chris Carlson / AP

Trump’s comments in Greensboro marked at least the second time he has likened the controversial lieutenant governor to the iconic civil rights leader.

“First, it was the voice,” Trump said of Robinson in a video posted online from an event at Mar-a-Lago in December. “And then, I said, ‘You know what, I swear, I think you’re better than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Trump said.

Trump recently faced backlash of his own for comments he made while addressing the Black Conservative Federation’s annual gala in South Carolina.

“I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time, and a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against,” he said.

Trump also insinuated that the Black community uniquely embraced and connected with his mug shot photo. His allies have launched an effort to try to win over more Black voters in November.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt called Robinson “a great American who is well respected by the people of North Carolina” in a statement to NBC News.

“The mainstream media’s attacks on African Americans who support President Trump is old and exhausting,” she added, “but we expect them to increase as polling proves more and more Black Americans are choosing to support Trump over Biden.”

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