SIOUX CITY — In her first trip to Iowa as a possible presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the area’s congressman, Steve King, has become too controversial for his racial comments and should resign.
Gillibrand was asked about King, a Republican who has faced calls to resign since his Jan. 10 comments about white supremacism, at her first of two events in Sioux City.
“I stand with candidates who want to replace him,” she said, at Pierce Street Coffeeworks.
A half-hour later, in speaking to a large group of reporters, Gillibrand returned to the topic saying, “I think it’s disgraceful, what he said. I don’t think he should be serving as a result.”
Gillibrand appeared at the coffee shop with J.D. Scholten, the Democrat from Sioux City who narrowly lost to King in November.
House Republican leaders voted Monday to take away King’s committee assignments for the next two years in the wake of a New York Times story in which he was quoted as saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
The next day, the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution of disapproval intended to rebuke King.
Gillibrand is the second female Democratic U.S. senator to visit Sioux City in her first trip to Iowa while considering a run for president in 2020. The first was Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who visited Jan. 5.
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Earlier this week, Gillibrand announced forming an exploratory committee, the first step toward launching a presidential campaign.
Today, she was scheduled to be in Ames, Boone and Des Moines.
At Coffeeworks, Jeanette Hopkins said it is pleasing to see Sioux City figure prominently in the Iowa stops by Democrats. “It is really cool that they are coming and that they are coming early,” Hopkins said.
In a Journal interview, Gillibrand said Sioux City is in a district similar to one that leaned Republican when she was elected to the U.S. House from upstate New York. She said she wanted to hear about the challenges from Iowans, on such issues as having robust school districts and growing the rural economies.
Gillibrand, 52, a lawyer who moved from the House to the Senate in 2012, said the direction of the nation is imperiled.
“Donald Trump ran as a disrupter,” she said. “He has not fixed the rigged system.”
Gillibrand said too much power lies with political action groups and lobbyists.
“You have to restore power to the hands of the people,” she said.
At the coffee shop, she answered several questions from Sioux City people about immigration and climate change. Linda Santi and Hopkins said they liked Gillibrand’s answers.
“I liked her honesty. I like that she has legislative experience. We need that,” Hopkins said.
Susan Leonard of Sioux City asked Gillibrand about her relationship with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
Gillibrand said they are friends. “Joni and I go to Bible study often,” she added.