Rep. Steve King of Iowa was admonished by politicians of both parties earlier this month after he appeared to praise white nationalism and white supremacy in an interview with the New York Times. And now, after he was stripped of all of his House committee assignments, King is using the controversy to raise money.
“The unhinged left has teamed up with Republican ‘NeverTrumpers’ and is pulling out all the stops to destroy me,” King wrote in a fundraising email, the Des Moines Register reported Friday. In the email, King also cited the “rabid leftist media,” including the New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?,” King said in a New York Times interview in January. The comment was in line with the sort of rhetoric that King has been using for many years, often with controversy. This episode, however, has led to greater backlash, which led the House Republican leadership to drop King from his committee assignments, and for some Republicans to call for his resignation.
The Des Moines Register, in fact, earlier this week called for King to resign. Another newspaper in the state, the Fort Dodge Messenger, not only called for King to resign but also apologized for endorsing him in last year’s election.
“The racially charged comments that have become King’s hallmark are incompatible with representing the good people of Iowa,” the Messenger said in its editorial. “Racism and/or insensitivity to racism are unacceptable to virtually all Iowans or all political persuasions.”
Meanwhile, a potential Republican challenger to King in 2020, State Sen. Randy Feenstra, has raised $100,000 in 10 days, Roll Call reported this week. And Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has introduced a measure to formally censure King.
Rep. Steve King is fundraising off controversy from white supremacy comments https://t.co/28NgpqqvtP— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) January 18, 2019
King claims that he didn’t intend to praise white nationalism, and has blamed the Times for the episode. During the 2018 campaign, the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard reported that King had referred to immigrants as “dirt.” King disputed the accuracy of the report, but the magazine stood by it, even producing audio that supported the Standard’s version of events. The congressman, meanwhile, openly celebrated the following month when the Standard announced that it was shutting down.
Rep. King, a power broker in the rural parts of Iowa, has been elected to the House every year since 1998. During each presidential election’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, his support is highly sought after by presidential candidates.