Racist Republican Congressman Steve King Is Unrepentant And Running For Re-Election

Steve King isn't backing down from his history of white supremacy and racism. And he's also running for re-election.

Iowa Congressman Steve King, who was recently disciplined by his own party after making controversial racist remarks in an interview with The New York Times and a long history of association with white supremacist and neo-Nazi national and international organizations, is running for re-election:

Meanwhile, Politico reports that King says he has nothing to apologize for:

A defiant Rep. Steve King confirmed Thursday that he will run for a 10th term as an Iowa congressman, despite controversies over his history of caustic remarks, including about race and immigration.

The Kiron Republican has been criticized by national and state leaders of his own party, has been stripped of committee assignments in Congress and has drawn three primary challengers for the 2020 race.

In a Thursday taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, host David Yepsen asked him: “Are you sorry for anything that you’ve said?”

The congressman replied: “I have nothing to apologize for, Dave.”

King confirmed that he will run for re-election in 2020, despite drawing three challengers for the Republican nomination. He offered a message to voters in his northwest Iowa district: “Don’t let the elitists in this country, the power brokers in this country, tell you who’s going to represent you in the United States Congress.”

The “Iowa Press” show is scheduled to air on IPTV at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Criticism of King ramped up in January, after the New York Times quoted him as saying: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa were among the leading Republicans who criticized the remark. U.S. House Republicans stripped him of his committee posts and the U.S. House members, including King, condemned white nationalism and supremacy.

King confirmed that he will run for re-election in 2020, despite drawing three challengers for the Republican nomination. He offered a message to voters in his northwest Iowa district: “Don’t let the elitists in this country, the power brokers in this country, tell you who’s going to represent you in the United States Congress.”

The “Iowa Press” show is scheduled to air on IPTV at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Criticism of King ramped up in January, after the New York Times quoted him as saying: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa were among the leading Republicans who criticized the remark. U.S. House Republicans stripped him of his committee posts and the U.S. House members, including King, condemned white nationalism and supremacy.

Yepsen, a former Des Moines Register columnist, challenged King on his claim the quote attributed to him by New York Times political reporter Trip Gabriel was wrong. “He’s known as a pretty good reporter,” Yepsen told King. “… That’s one of the reasons why this has had such momentum on it.”

King replied: “He can say he’s a respected reporter — and I think he’s a personable fella; that’s probably part of the reason why we had a 56-minute conversation.” But he said Gabriel never produced a recording or transcript of the interview.

New York Times Politics Editor Patrick Healy said later Thursday that the newspaper stands behind its story.

“Trip Gabriel typed detailed notes during the interview and we are absolutely confident that we quoted Mr. King accurately, fairly and in the proper context,” Healy wrote in an email to the Register. “I’d point out that for more than 24 hours after the article was published, Mr. King did not dispute he had made the comment.”

“Iowa Press” panelist Erin Murphy, a political reporter for Lee Enterprises, asked King Thursday about the effects of being stripped of his committee assignments in Congress after the New York Times story was published. “Is there any way for you to be an effective congressman for the 4th District?” Murphy asked.

King said he doesn’t think being on a committee matters as much for a Republican now that Democrats are running the House.

“If there’s ever going to be a time not to have committee assignments, this time with Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the House is the time,” he said.

More from Politico:

Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who recently received national backlash for comments supporting white supremacy and white nationalists, said on Thursday that he wasn’t sorry and that he would run for reelection in 2020.

“I have nothing to apologize for,” King said during a recording of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press,” after the host, David Yepsen, asked whether King was sorry for anything he’d said, according to The Des Moines Register.

The episode will air Friday evening in Iowa.

King earlier this year came under fire after he questioned, during an interview with The New York Times, why the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become offensive. The congressman since has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the comments and claimed he was misquoted.

Many of King’s fellow Republicans denounced his comments, including both of Iowa’s senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley. Several of King’s colleagues went so far as to call for him to resign, as did the state’s largest paper, the Register, and the Sioux City Journal, a Western Iowa newspaper that is located in King’s 4th Congressional District.

Republicans and Democrats in the House also approved a rare resolution rebuking King for his statements on white supremacy and white nationalists. In addition, he was removed from his committee assignments.

King, however, claimed on Thursday that he wasn’t concerned about losing his committee seats because of Democrats currently control the House.

“If there’s ever going to be a time not to have committee assignments, this time with Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the House is the time,” he said, according to The Register.

The interview with the New York Times, during which King questioned why favoring white supremacy was a bad thing and acknowledged his previous history of racist comments without repudiating them, was only the latest development in a long history of racist comments by the ten-term Iowa Congressman. This is, after all, a man who made his fame as the Republican Party’s loudest and most vitriolic voice in the anti-immigrant wing that began to grow late in the term of George W. Bush when party activists blocked an immigration reform plan back by Bush and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. In the past, he has also become more and more bigoted in his comments about Muslims, including incidents in which he has spoken out against Muslims being allowed in the United States, suggested that Muslim-Americans should be barred from holding office, and against those who were elected and chose to be sworn in with their hand on a copy of the Koran.

Over the years, King has seemingly become more open about his sympathy for what are clearly white supremacist points of view, and an examination of his history shows he has a long history of remarks that can only be described as racist. Over the course of the past several years, for example, King has endorsed a candidate for Mayor of Toronto, Canada who has neo-Nazi ties, he has met with the leaders of a far-right political party in Austria that has been accused of questioning and downplaying the seriousness of the Holocaust. Among the accounts he follows on Twitter is an activist on the far-right of Australian politics who has, among other things, called for the hanging of a portrait of Adolf Hitler in every classroom in that country. On Twitter, he follows an Australian anti-Semitic activist, who proposed hanging a portrait of Hitler “in every classroom.”

When he spoke with a far-right publication in Austria last year, King seemed very familiar with racist conspiracy theories, books, and ideas embraced by white supremacists and neo-Nazis across the globe. For example, as the Times article noted, King spoke of something called “the Great Replacement,” which is basically a far-right conspiracy theory that so-called “elites” are seeking to reduce white populations across the globe and replace them with minority groups from other parts of the world. This is the conspiracy theory that inspired the torch-bearing protesters in Charlottesville who chanted slogans such as “Blood And Soil!,” a slogan that has its roots in Nazi Germany, and “Jews will not replace us!”  King has also forged close ties with far-right political leaders in Europe such as France’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, who has built his reputation on being one of the most virulent anti-Muslim politicians in Western Europe and has advocated ideas such as closing mosques. in response to the influx of mostly Muslim refugees and immigrants from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. In March of 2017, King tweeted his endorsement of Wilders in a tweet, saying that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Domestically, King has become something of a hero to those on the so-called alt-right who have become more open about their beliefs in the wake of President Trump’s election. Andrew Anglin, who operates the far-right website Daily Stormer, and who joined others on the white supremacist right in celebrating Trump’s win in 2016, has been quoted as saying that King is “basically an open white nationalist at this point.” More recently, when the new Congress was sworn in last week along with a record number of women and African-Americans, as well as Muslim and Native American women, King apparently remarked that the Democratic side of the chamber looked like “no country for white men.”

King’s racism hasn’t been without consequences. In addition to losing his committee assignments, something that is a far bigger deal than he’s letting on even though he’s currently dismissing its impact on his ability to represent his constituents, King has picked up a significant challenger for the Republican nomination for his seat in Randy Feenstra, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the State Senate and who has said that King is depriving his constituents of a proper representation due to the distractions that his controversial views bring to the table. He has also picked up a second challenger in Bret Richards, a local businessman who has never held office before. All that being said, it’s worth noting that King won the Republican primary in 2018 with 75% of the vote, and won the General Election over his Democratic challenger despite some speculation in the weeks beforehand that his seat could be vulnerable. In the end, King’s victory by 10,000 votes was narrower than he has seen in many years, though, and that is likely the reason why Feenstra is challenging him now. The question is whether King’s constituents will use this opportunity to themselves, and us, of this unrepresented racist.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Best thing King can have are multiple challengers in the primary.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    He is a man for his times, in today’s GOP. Sadly.

  3. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Has a GOP office-holder ever been successfully primaried for being too racist?

  4. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    Meanwhile, Politico reports that King says he has nothing to apologize for:

    Considering who his constituency voted for in 2016 and is likely to vote for in 2020, he probably doesn’t, either.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:
    Not that I can think of, so that are two points in King’s favor.

    I will say, that rural Midwesterners take offence when they are accused of racism and if the King accusations sink into the district, they will move away from him.

  6. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I will say, that rural Midwesterners take offence when they are accused of racism and if the King accusations sink into the district, they will move away from him.

    Well that could go either way. They could say “I don’t want to be associated with a racist like King!” or they might say “PC snowflakes are accusing him of racism, now I have to vote for him!”

    Enough speculation. The fact is that he won reelection in 2018 very narrowly for a district as Republican as IA-4, suggesting he’s more of a liability to the party than an asset. It reminds me a little of Michele Bachmann. While her brand was more religious extremism than racism, there are definite parallels in the way she kept eking out narrow victories in her very red Minnesota district, before finally retiring following a couple of financial scandals. She presumably realized she couldn’t win again.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: The “narrow slice of victory” gets narrower and narrower, until common horse sense indicates a high risk of not managing to get a victory the next time?