Politics

Steve King Laying Low After White Supremacist Backlash

Ted Cruz supports King in phone call amid criticism over Iowa rep’s support of white nationalists

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is laying low until the midterms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Steve King is laying low until the midterms after he received backlash this week from national Republicans for supporting white supremacist groups with ties to Nazis.

King has no campaign events scheduled for the rest of this week and through Election Day on Nov. 6, and his staff has stopped responding to local media inquiries, KPLC in Iowa reported.

The Republican congressman’s race in Iowa’s 4th District against Democrat J.D. Scholten has tightened in recent weeks, even though President Donald Trump carried the district by more than 27 points in 2016.

National Republicans have not clamored to King’s defense.

Instead, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers publicly condemned King’s behavior.

“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” Stivers tweeted on Tuesday. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

After a gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last week, King’s past tweets and comments decrying the perceived demise of white Americans as the U.S. becomes more diverse received renewed scrutiny.

King has also been criticized for an interview he gave to members of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party — which was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and is now led by a man who ran in neo-Nazi groups when he was a teenager — where the congressman lamented that “Western civilization is on the decline.”

When King gave his interview, he was in the midst of a five-day tour through Poland, including stops at old Nazi concentration camps, funded by a non-profit Holocaust education group.

King said Wednesday that he received a supportive phone call from Sen. Ted Cruz this week amid the backlash, Bloomberg reported.

King co-chaired Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign in Iowa, the all-important first caucus state. Cruz won the Iowa caucuses.

Cruz has called King’s actions and comments supporting white nationalists “disappointing” but has not abandoned him wholesale, as some of his corporate donors have.

King also still has tacit support from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is locked in a re-election race of her own against Democrat Fred Hubbell.

“When I don’t agree with what he says, I’m very open about that,” Reynolds told the Quad-City Times. “None of us agree on everything. I also cannot be held accountable for what every person tweets or says. I’m accountable for myself, and I am leading.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Iowa’s 4th District Likely Republican.

Watch: 25 Race Ratings Changes Less Than a Week Before Midterms

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