Steve King, the Republican congressman from Iowa, has been making derogatory statements about minorities since he joined Congress in 2003. His rhetoric has only escalated in recent months.
Back in 2008, King said terrorists would be dancing in the streets if presidential candidate Barack Hussain Obama won, emphasizing his middle name. In 2016, he said only white people had made meaningful contributions to human civilization. This past summer, he sat for an interview with a neo-Nazi newspaper while on a trip funded by a Holocaust memorial nonprofit. And on Oct. 17 he tweeted his support for a white nationalist politician in Canada.
Since the Pittsburgh shooting that killed 11 in a Jewish synagogue on Oct. 27, civil rights activists have focused on highlighting companies donating money to politicians who spread hateful and anti-Semitic messages, including King. After boycott threats, dairy collective Land O’Lakes and tech giant Intel are among the donors who have pledged not to give money to King.
King, once a shoo-in to win his Iowa seat again, is now in a close race, with just a one point advantage over his Democratic challenger, a poll published this morning (Oct. 30) shows.
Hours after the poll was published, the Republican party issued a rare rebuke of King. Steve Stivers, a congressman from Ohio who is also the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, called King “completely inappropriate” and said the party “must stand up against white supremacy.”
Stivers has denounced white supremacy before, specifically after Trump said “both sides” were to blame after a protester was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, but he did not mention Trump by name. Republicans have mostly brushed off King’s comments in the past. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, for example, said he’d “like to think” King misspoke, after King tweeted in March of 2017 that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”