Steve King, the Republican Congressman from Iowa, has a long history of making controversial comments. Most notoriously, in 2017, King declared that “we cannot defend our civilization with someone else’s babies.”
This week, King made more comments along those lines in an interview with the New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Now, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives has condemned the comments.
“Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Minority Leader, said in a statement, as reported on Twitter by CNN’s Ashley Killough.
“Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ That is a fact, that is self-evident.”
King had issued a three-paragraph statement on Twitter on Thursday, saying that he “[rejects] those labels and the evil ideology that they define,” and declaring that he is “simply a nationalist.” King did not, however, dispute the accuracy of the quotes.
The recent controversy echoed an episode last November when the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard reported that King had referred to immigrants as “dirt from Mexico.” Per the San Jose Mercury News, King denied he had said this and dared the magazine to release audio – which they did, showing that King had, in fact, made the statement. King, weeks later, celebrated when the Weekly Standard announced that it was closing, the Washington Post noted.
First elected to the House of Representatives in 2002, King was only narrowly re-elected in November and is currently the only Republican in Iowa’s four-member House delegation.
In addition to his service in Congress and his prominent media profile, King is known for playing an outsized role, every four years, in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Republican presidential caucuses, as the Congressman’s endorsement is often highly sought-after by GOP presidential hopefuls.
King had made no statement Friday about McCarthy’s denouncing of his words, but he did have some advice for President Trump on the border wall and security.
“Mr. President [Donald Trump], if the time comes that it is necessary for you [to] declare a state of emergency for border security, build the whole wall out of concrete,” King tweeted. “Let it stand forever as a monument to the Rule of Law.”