- Several top Republicans have condemned Iowa Rep. Steve King’s latest inflammatory comments about race.
- In an interview with the New York Times published last week, King asked why terms like white supremacy and white nationalism had “become offensive.”
- In a promise for a strong response to the comments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promised that “action will be taken” to reevaluate the congressman’s place in the Republican party.
Several top Republicans have condemned recent comments from Iowa Rep. Steve King in which he asked why terms like white supremacy and white nationalism had “become offensive.”
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?” King told The New York Times in an interview published last week. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
The comments are the latest in King’s controversial record of rhetoric that seems to support extreme ideologies on the right, openly connecting with white supremacist and neo-Nazi figures and displaying the Confederate battle flag on his congressional office desk.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promised that “action will be taken” on behalf of the party in response to the comments.
“I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party,” McCarthy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I will not stand back as a leader of this party, believing in this nation that all are created equal, that that stands or continues to stand and has any role with us.”
McCarthy’s was the sharpest warning to King, whose comments Sen. Ted Cruz called “stupid,” “hurtul,” and “wrong.”
“What Steve King said was stupid. It was stupid, it was hurtful, it was wrong. And he needs to stop it,” Cruz said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“All of us ought to be united regardless of party in saying white supremacism, white nationalism is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong,” Cruz continued.
House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise began what has become an ongoing discussion among Republicans in Congress, saying, “there is no place for hate, for bigotry or anybody who supports that ideology.”
King has long denied being a racist, and issued a statement following the publication of The Times story on Thursday in which he said he “reject[s] those labels and the ideology that they define.” He argued he is “simply a Nationalist” and “an advocate for Western Civilization’s values.”
Though Sen. Lindsey Graham objected to King’s comments, he offered a more muddled response, pointing to King’s offered clarification among the terms.
“All I can say is that his view of white supremacy and mine are different,” Graham told reporters in South Carolina Friday. “He says he’s not a racist. I know Steve. He’s apologized.”
Graham continued: “But, at the end of the day, it’s just perplexing in 2019 somebody could be confused about what these terms are associated with.”
Beyond the response from his Republican colleagues, King is facing the threat of censure from the Democratic-controlled House.