SIOUX CITY — The head of the U.S. House Republicans’ campaign committee Tuesday rebuked fellow GOP Rep. Steve King for the Iowa 4th District congressman’s repeated admiration for political candidates with white supremacist ties.
“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” tweeted Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”
King, for years an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, also has stirred controversy with his pro-Western Civilization views. Most recently, he endorsed a white nationalist candidate for mayor of Toronto and spoke to members of a far-right political party in Austria during a tour of historical Jewish and Holocaust sites in Poland funded by a Holocaust memorial group.
Defending his August meeting with Austrian Freedom Party members, the eight-term Northwest Iowa congressman told the Washington Post, “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.”
Stivers, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee is the highest-ranking GOP House member to publicly call out King. The GOP chair’s tweet comes just days after a gunman shouted anti-Semitic slurs as he fatally shot 11 congregation members at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh.
After two hours after Stivers tweeted, King responded with his own statement on Twitter.
“Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins-legal immigrants, natural born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill,” King said in the statement. “These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news. Their ultimate goal is to flip the House and impeach Donald Trump. Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit.”
King’s Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten of Sioux City, commended Stivers. “Last week I issued a challenge for at least one Republican elected official to condemn @SteveKingIA’s recent behavior,” Scholten tweeted. “I applaud @RepSteveStivers, Chair of the NRCC. Respect.”
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The rebuke came as dueling polls painted a different story of how close the Iowa 4th race stands in the days leading to Tuesday’s election.
Scholten’s campaign touted an online poll posted Monday night that showed the Democratic challenger just a single point behind King, 45 to 44 percent. The online poll is from Change Research, a Democratic-affiliated pollster.
Tuesday morning, King countered with his own internal poll, which showed him 18 points ahead of Scholten.
“Iowa voters are overwhelmingly choosing to stick with Congressman Steve King’s proven leadership and they are rejecting his opponent’s nasty, desperate, and dishonest attacks funded by San Francisco liberals,” King said in a statement.
Citing King’s controversial remarks and associations with white nationalist politicians, some large businesses also have cut off financial donations. The latest to do so Tuesday was Twins Cities-based Land O’ Lakes Foods, whose political action committee gave King’s campaign $2,500 in June. The privately-owned dairy faced growing calls for a boycott of its ag products over its support for King,
Also Tuesday, Cook Political Report moved the King-Scholten race from “Likely Republican” to “Leaning Republican,” a further sign the respected handicapper believes it’s tightening.
Libertarian Chuck Aldrich, of Clarion, is also on the ballot.