Government

Steve King: 'I have nothing to apologize for'

Iowa congressman talks criticism, re-election on this week's 'Iowa Press'

U.S. Rep. Steve King talks with someone during a reception by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, May. 3, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Steve King talks with someone during a reception by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, May. 3, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

JOHNSTON — A defiant Steve King insists he has no need to apologize.

King, the Republican Congressman from western Iowa, said Thursday the heavy criticism he has faced since shortly before the November election was sparked by a pair of inaccurate national newspaper stories.

King made the comments during taping for this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.

“I have nothing to apologize for,” King said on the program. “If I look back through this, each thing starts out with some formerly credible organization that launches this, and then we have this phenomenon that America is not ready for and that’s this cyberbullying that unleashes that is there and creating a firestorm. That is what has happened. If you would just hold these publications to what is true there is no story whatsoever.”

King has been under siege for a Washington Post story in October about his trip to Austria to meet with members of a political group with Nazi roots, and his comments in a January interview in the New York Times.

King in November survived the closest election race of his nine-term career in Congress, but was stripped of his committee assignments after the Times article appeared and faces Republican challengers for his next re-election bid, in 2020.

In the Times interview, King was quoted as saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” The backlash was severe, and days later Republican Congressional leadership removed King from his assignments.

King has said — and repeated Thursday — that his question referred only to the term Western civilization, and he rejects the ideology of white nationalism and white supremacy. He added those terms have been “weaponized by the left.”

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“I’ve said it multiple times: There’s no part of me that believes in anything that is advocated by folks that identify themselves as white nationalists or white supremacy,” King said.

King said he will run in 2020 for a 10th term in Congress. He already faces three Republican primary opponents in western Iowa’s conservative 4th Congressional District, including a state senator.

King thinks Republicans in western Iowa agree with him on policy and the votes he takes in Congress, and he does not think he will be a drain on the Republican ticket in the 2020 general election, when the GOP ticket will have President Donald Trump at the top and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst fighting for her first re-election in Iowa.

“We faced all of the ordnance that they could throw against us (in 2018). We were outspent 14-to-1 head-to-head. We were outspent 75-to-1 in independent expenditures. And they bought everything on the internet they could possibly buy,” King said. “They had a nearly perfect storm and still we came out of there with the 3.7 percent victory. So I don’t think it’s a drag on the ticket, either, or you would have seen that happen (last year). ...

“Donald Trump will be on the ballot. He and I are four-square on the same agenda here. I’m the guy that actually created the immigration policy that helped launch him into the presidency, and I support him on the wall and every other piece of his agenda.”

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