Rep. Steve King, who campaigned on a hard-line anti-immigration stance long before President Trump, doesn’t understand why being labeled a “white supremacist” is a negative.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” the Iowa Republican told the New York Times in an interview published Thursday. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King, 69, was first elected to Congress in 2002 and has represented the fourth district since 2013.
In October, after King told an anti-immigration outlet in Australia that “diversity is not a strength,” Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the head of the GOP campaign arm in the House, disavowed him.
“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions and retweets are completely inappropriate,” Stivers said in a statement. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”
Land O’Lakes also announced that it would no longer support the controversial politician.
He won his midterm anyway, narrowly beating Democrat J.D. Scholten, a former baseball player.
King, who has been praised by the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, has long been pitching a wall along the Southern Border, just like Trump is doing now.
In January 2017, King met with John Kelly, who had just been appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, to show him a model version of his proposed wall, complete with barbed wire.
In 2006, he pitched the same thing on the floor of the House.
“I also say we need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them would be to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder there,” he said at the time.
“We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn’t kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”
Hours after the New York Times article was published online, King issued a statement, insisting that he condemns “anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression of 6 million innocent Jewish lives.”
He is not a white nationalist, he said, but “a Nationalist.”
“America’s values are expressed in our founding documents, they are attainable by everyone and we take pride that people of all races, religions and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them,” he wrote.