Republican Rep. Steve King defended white supremacist remarks he gave to the New York Times by reading those same quotes aloud in Congress on Tuesday.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in an interview with the Times last week and then repeated on the House floor. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
The longtime Iowa House member has faced many years of criticism for his racist and nationalistic views, but the Times interview seemed to be the tipping point. Prominent Democrats and Republicans condemned King, and members of his own party stripped him of his committee assignments, which some members work years to obtain. Mitt Romney even called for King’s resignation.
“That ideology never shows up in my head. I don’t know how it could possibly come out of my mouth, so I’m going to tell you that the words are likely what I said, but I want to read it to you the way I believe I said it,” King said Tuesday before reading his quotes to the Times.
King’s effort to double down on the House floor stays the course he’s taken since giving the interview earlier this week. In the same breath as he condemned white nationalism, he clarified that he was simply a nationalist.
“It’s true that, like the Founding Fathers, I am an advocate for Western civilization’s values, and I profoundly believe that America is the greatest tangible expression of these ideals the world has ever seen,” King wrote in a statement posted to Twitter the same day the interview published. “Under any fair political definition, I am simply a nationalist.”
On Tuesday, King voted in favor of a House resolution condemning his white nationalism and his comments. Only one member of the House voted against the resolution: Democrat Bobby Rush of Illinois, who wanted a more stern reprimand of King that included censure. Some Democrats said they will force a censure vote on King.
Cover image: In this June 8, 2018, file photo, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. State Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, announced this week he'd seek the Republican nomination, facing the nine-term King. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)