GOP Emboldened Steve King To Use White Nationalist Rhetoric — CNN's Don Lemon

Steve King

In an interview with The New York Times earlier this week, King wondered when terms like white nationalist became so "offensive". He said he has not heard push back from local Republican leaders in Iowa.

King may not be too far off-base.

The context of the comment, King said, was obscured in the article.

"When people with opinions similar to King's open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole", Sen.

"I think it was important that he rejected that kind of evil, because that's what it is".

King said he wasn't complaining that he couldn't freely use terms like white supremacist, but rather that he was asking how terms like that got into political discussions.

The representative finished things off by saying that like President Trump, he now identifies as "simply a nationalist". "However, we are often still struggling when it comes to civility and fairness".

Sen. Tim Scott talks with reporters as the Senate takes a procedural vote on the spending bill, December 21, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

For the most part, however, Republicans have been quiet.

But other Republicans were unconvinced by Mr King's explanation. Scott wrote an op-ed slamming Republican lawmaker Steve King for his white supremacist comments.

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He later backtracked, saying he was not an advocate for "white nationalism and white supremacy", The Times reported. "It's offensive to the Republican Party of Iowa". And not just in the distant past, but in the past two years. "Ask me maybe in a year and a half or something". "I'm waiting for A SINGLE REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE HOUSE to speak out against this".

So far, King, who survived his closest re-election contest in November by a 50 percent to 47 percent margin, has drawn three primary opponents. "Nobody will talk to him in a meaningful way about finding a compromise. I mean we don't typically get involved in primaries and that's about all I have to say".

King said he approached Scalise to let him know he planned to discuss the matter on the floor. "Because we're silent on things like this". But he made clear no one in the GOP told him to make those remarks. "The people who know me know I wouldn't even have to make this statement because they do know me". "Once again, I reject those labels and the ideology that they define". "I defend American civilization, which is an essential component of western civilization".

When asked by reporters following the speech if he was anxious about losing committee positions, he appeared to dismiss the idea.

King read into the record the quote from the Times story that he said was "the substance of this heartburn that seems to be churning across the media and America today".

But King is now in a different, more threatening situation after his latest remarks. The most senior black leader in Congress, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of SC, told CNN he supports that move.

"The U.S. House of Representatives must censure Rep. Steve King for his racists remarks", Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, tweeted and added: "Support for white supremacist ideology should have no place in Congress". "I have not seen what he said, but he makes bad comments all the time, so this is not anything new".

"Bravo, Senator Scott. You are absolutely right", Lemon lauded. "His party needs to absolutely do something definitive".

He added: "We have to talk about his long history of frankly racist comments".

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