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‘An unnecessary controversy’: Rep. King says white nationalist comments were out of context

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‘An unnecessary controversy’: Rep. King says white nationalist comments were out of context


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Congressman Steve King from Iowa’s Fourth District denied meeting exclusively with members of an extremist group during a visit to Europe.
Des Moines Register

Rep. Steve King addressed the controversy surrounding his statements about white nationalism and white supremacy in a New York Times article on the U.S. House floor Friday.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, yielded his time to the Iowa Republican as the House debated the southern border wall funding impasse. King used the time to say he “made a freshman mistake” talking with a New York Times reporter without recording the interview.

“But one phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy,” King said. “That was my mistake.”

The quote that King said sparked “heartburn” appeared in the article published Thursday about King’s role in the U.S.-Mexico border wall discussion and President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

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“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times reporter. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

On the House floor, King said the quote was taken out of context. King argued he was saying terms like white supremacist, white nationalist and Nazi were “almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people.”

“It was about how those words got plugged into our dialogue, not when the words became offensive, which is what the technical interpretation of it is,” King said. “It’s how did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue.”

The 4th district representative also issued a news release Thursday denouncing white nationalism and white supremacy. However, that has not stopped the barrage of condemnations from Republicans and others over the controversial quote.

King wasn’t told by Republican leadership that they were condemning his comments, according to a reporter for The Hill, but he also hasn’t received signals that further punishment is coming.

Fellow conservatives have been condemning King for months, even prior to the 2018 midterm election where King narrowly beat Democrat challenger J.D. Scholten. 

Last October, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, disavowed King in a statement on Twitter. Three major U.S. companies also announced they will no longer donate campaign money to King.

Now, King faces two primary challengers, Iowa Sen. Randy Feenstra and Bret Richards.

Read or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/11/representative-steve-king-iowa-house-floor-new-york-times-white-nationalist-supremacist-nazi-racist/2549711002/

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