Trump ally Steve King: I don't know how 'white supremacist' became offensive term
The Republican congressman says the diverse Democratic party appears to be no country for white men’
A nine-term Republican congressman and close ally of Donald Trump known for making racially provocative statements said in an interview published Thursday that he did not understand why the phrases “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” had “become offensive”.
Congressman Steve King, who has represented his rural Iowa district in Washington since 2003, made the remarks 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?”
In the same interview, King expressed a sense of racial alienation at the swearing-in of the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which includes a record number of women and people of color, as well as the first Muslim American and Native American women elected to Congress.
“You could look over there and think the Democratic party is no country for white men,” King said.
King, who has forged personal alliances with far-right, anti-immigration groups across Europe, has a long track record of making statements widely perceived as racist, although he denies the charge.
“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he has tweeted. He has called illegal immigration a “slow-rolling, slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States” and a “slow-motion Holocaust” and tweeted: “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”
King has amassed national political power as a conservative gatekeeper in a state that votes first in the presidential primary process and can give Republican candidates a crucial early boost or sink a candidacy.
When Trump began visiting Iowa as a candidate, he found an ideological ally, particularly on issues such as immigration.
King has long advocated building a wall on the Mexican border, authored legislation to make English the official language of Iowa and has said of immigrants: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130lb and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75lb of marijuana across the desert.”
“He may be the world’s most conservative human being,” Trump approvingly said of King at a rally in Iowa before the recent midterm elections. The congressman replied on Twitter: “I do my best to pull President Trump to the right:-)”
But King’s repeated provocations appear to have made him freshly vulnerable to political challengers. He beat a Democratic opponent in his most recent election only narrowly, in a district Trump won by 27 points. A Republican challenger, Randy Feenstra, an assistant majority leader in the state senate, has announced he will take on King in the 2020 primary race, saying King’s “distractions” had robbed Iowans of “a seat at the table”.