GOP debates response to overtly racist lawmaker

Party members are questioning whether simple condemnations of Steve King's most recent comments– in a career full of racist remarks– this time go far enough.

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January 13, 2019 18:53
1 minute read.
Republican Rep. Steve King

Republican Rep. Steve King. (photo credit: REUTERS/SCOTT MORGAN)

 
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WASHINGTON – Republican Party leaders are still debating how best to handle Steve King, a GOP congressman from Iowa who publicly defended white supremacy last week.

Party members are questioning whether simple condemnations of his most recent comments – in a career full of racist remarks – this time go far enough. They could elect to go further by stripping the veteran congressman of his committee posts, or even by supporting a primary challenger in 2020.

But King just won reelection in Iowa’s 4th congressional district – albeit by a slim margin of 3 points – raising one counterargument within the caucus that Iowans knew who they were voting for when duly electing him to his seat.

King has been in Congress since 2003. He has warned against the dissolution of white Christian culture in America with “someone else’s babies” and, just weeks before the 2018 election, visited with neo-Nazi figures in central Europe, lamenting Germany’s loss of national pride since the end of World War II.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”


While Democrats in control of the House may proceed with a censure motion of the racist lawmaker, Republican lawmakers thus far have only issued condemnatory statements.

Iowa’s governor has said he would back a primary challenger if one emerges. But while both of Iowa’s Republican senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, condemned King’s comments, but have campaigned with him in the past and have excused his past rhetoric.

King defended himself from the floor of the House last week, stating that he is “simply an American nationalist.” He did not apologize for his remarks to the Times or seek to clarify his statement.

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