WASHINGTON, DC -- Iowa Congressman Steve King is once again seeking to distance himself from his own words as fellow Republicans in Congress accuse of him of making more racist comments.
The latest controversy from the 4th District Republican from interview King conducted last week that appeared in an article published on Thursday in the New York Times. In the article King is quoted defending the terms 'white nationalism' and 'white supremacy':
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
The comments set off a firestorm of attacks on the congressman online, including from one of the top-ranking Republicans in the US House, Rep. Liz Cheney.
We reached out to Congressman King's office today to clarify the statement. His office released a statement clarifying his stance on the ideology connected to those terms. The Congressman's office has not denied that the quote is accurate, though.
“Today, the New York Times is suggesting that I am an advocate for white nationalism and white supremacy. I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.
It’s true that like the Founding Fathers I am an advocate for Western Civilization’s values, and that I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the World has ever seen. Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist. America’s values are expressed in our founding documents, they are attainable by everyone and we take pride that people of all races, religions, and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them. I am dedicated to keeping America this way.
This conviction does not make me a white nationalist or a white supremacist. Once again, I reject those labels and the ideology that they define. As I told the New York Times, ‘it’s not about race; it’s never been about race.’ One of my most strongly held beliefs is that we are all created in God’s image and that human life is sacred in all its forms.”
On Wednesday, Republican State Senator Randy Feenstra of Wall Lake announced he will challenge King in a primary in 2020. The Des Moines Register reports a second Republican, Bret Richards of Irwin, will also challenge King in the primary. Governor Kim Reynolds and the Republican Party of Iowa both say they won't endorse a candidate in the primary race.
King won a 9th term in Congress in November in his closest election yet. He captured just 50% of the vote despite registered Republicans far outweighing registered Democrats in his district. He faced a deluge of negative press in the closing days of the campaign for his support of right wing political candidates in Canada and Eastern Europe who've supported white supremacist ideals.