GOP Iowa Representative Steve King is facing condemnation for comments he made in an interview with a far right Austria group with Nazi ties.
He was harshly criticized by the head of the National Congressional Committe, Steve Stivers, on Twitter Tuesday, Politico reports. A source close to Stivers stated, “he could not stay silent” after being briefed on the newest in a long line of controversial comments from King.
Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.
— Steve Stivers (@RepSteveStivers) October 30, 2018
The communication director for the National Republican Congressional Committe, the campaign arm of the House Republicans, Matt Gorman, told Fox News that they will no longer support King in his bid for reelection.
“The NRCC and Congressman Stivers haven’t been afraid to show moral leadership when the time calls for it,” he said in an interview on Fox News on Tuesday. “We believe Congressman King’s words and actions are completely inappropriate and we strongly condemn them. We will not play in his race.”
Stivers’ tweet of condemnation of a sitting Representative and colleague caught the GOP by surprise. He did not notify anyone of his intention to call out King as a racist in the days immediately preceeding the midterm election. While King was expected to easily win reelection, the race has recently been labeled “lean Republican” by Cook Political Report.
Representative King responded with a tweet suggesting the “establishment” was out to get him.
“Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins-legal immigrants & natural born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill,” King wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. “These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake media. Their ultimate goal is to flip the House and impeach Donald Trump. Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit.”
King has not only lost the financial backing of the NRCC: Land O’ Lakes PAC, Purina, and Intel have all withdrawn their support of his candidacy, CNN reports. Land O’ Lakes donated $2,500, Purina $500, and Intel $2,000. The companies have stated that King does not represent their values.
Land O’ Lakes made a statement explaining that “We take our civic responsibility seriously, want our contributions to be a positive force for good and also seek to ensure that recipients of our contributions uphold our company’s values. On that basis, we have determined that our PAC will no longer support Rep. Steve King moving forward. ”
Purina made a statement on Twitter explaining that they will no longer contribute to King’s campaign because his statements are in conflict with the company’s values.
Representative King has a long history of controversial and racially insensitive remarks and actions that includes displaying the Confederate Flag on his desk, talking about using an electrified fence to keep Mexicans out, stating it works with livestock, and proposed legislation to prevent Harriet Tubman from replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, according to Iowan Jacy Gomez in an opinion piece for CNN.
In June, King retweeted a message from a far right British activist named Mark Collet who has praised Hitler and is a self described Nazi sympathizer. Per CNN, King refused to apologize for the tweet and refused to delete it, saying, “Because then it’d be like I’m admitting that I did something, now I’m sorry about it. I’m not sorry. I’m human.”
King has recently come under fire again after endorsing Faith Goldy, a white nationalist who promotes the idea of the existence of “white genocide”, for mayor of Toronto according to Politico. He has also expressed his support of Geert Wilders, a far right Dutch politician, stating “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies”.
Stivers and King’s donors have decided enough is enough after comments made during the Congressman’s August trip have become public. The Washington Post reports King as stating that “Western civilization is on the decline” and pushed a theory that George Soros is attempting to replace white Europeans with minorities in a conspiracy called “The Great Replacement” during the interview with a publication called Unzensuriert (translated as “Uncensored”) and also said “diversity is not a strength.”
“What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have?” King said in the interview. “Mexican food, Chinese food, those things — well, that’s fine. But what does it bring that we don’t have that is worth the price? Wehave a lot of diversity within the U.S. already.”
The publication Unzensurierte is associated with Austria’s Freedom Party, whose founders and current leaders have ties to Nazi and neo -Nazi circles. In recent times the Austrian Freedom Party pushed anti-immigration positions and reached out to leaders of far right parties.
King defended his meetings in Vienna with Freedom Party members, noting that its leaders are participating in the Austrian government and that they “completely reject any kind of Nazi ideology or philosophy.”
“That’s not a fringe group,” he said, adding: “I have identified them and counted them as friends and allies well before they were winning elections. But that’s a good thing to build those relationships before they come to power.”
While on this trip, King visited Poland and asked his guests, which was worse, “the Nazis or the Soviets?”. The Congressman stated, “And they don’t know the answer to that because the Soviets occupied them longer, may have killed more of them, but it was over a longer period of time.”
Steve King defended his visits with leaders from the Austrian Freedom Party, telling the Post that “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.”
His comments come after the slaying of 11 worshippers in the Tree of Life synogue on October 27, in the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history. King says he is not an anti-Semite and that criticism is being drummed up by the left and Never Trumpers so they can impeach President Trump.
While Iowan Jewish leaders have written a letter condemning King’s meeting with Austrian leaders with Nazi ties and the Anti-Defamation League has written to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan requesting that King be censured for his anti-Semitic comments and actions, Senator Ted Cruz expressed disappointment but stopped short of condemning the man who was co-chairman of Cruz’s presidential campaign in Iowa.
“It’s disappointing. He’s saying and doing things that are dividing us, that are pulling us apart. We need to be finding ways to come together. This is a very polarized time and I do think tone and rhetoric matter. The way you address issues matter.”
King told Bloomberg that Cruz had personally called him to offer his support on Wednesday.