WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday denounced Rep. Steve King over his latest remarks on white supremacy, saying, “There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind.”
McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican to criticize King, R-Iowa, who lamented last week that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP House leaders have also condemned King’s remarks as racist.
Meanwhile, House Democrats said they’ll seek formal punishment for King.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said a censure resolution against King would announce to the world that Congress has no home for “repugnant and racist behavior.”
“As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated,” Rush said Monday in a statement that also called on Republicans to strip King of his committee memberships until he apologizes.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, introduced a separate censure resolution against King.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, we all have a responsibility to call out Rep. King’s hateful and racist comments,” Ryan said, noting that the white supremacy comments were not the first time King has made headlines for inappropriate language.
The text of Rush’s censure resolution lists more than a dozen examples of King’s remarks, beginning with comments in 2006 in which he compared immigrants to livestock and ending with his lamentation in the New York Times last week that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.
McConnell, in his statement, said he has “no tolerance” for the positions offered by King, and said “those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”
McCarthy on Sunday said that “action will be taken” against King.
One Republican did not join the chorus of criticism. Asked about King’s remarks Monday, President Donald Trump said, “Who?”
Told it was King, Trump said, “I haven’t been following it.”
King on Friday suggested he’s been misunderstood. He said the foundation of the Times interview was partly a Sept. 12 tweet in which he wrote: “‘Nazi’ is injected into Leftist talking points because the worn out & exhausted “racist” is over used & applied to everyone who lacks melanin & who fail to virtue signal at the requisite frequency & decibels. But…Nazis were socialists & Leftists are socialists.”
On Friday, King said on the House floor that the interview with the Times “also was discussion of other terms that have been used, almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people. The word racist, the word Nazi, the word fascist, the phrase white nationalists, the phrase white supremacists.”
King said he was only wondering aloud: “How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue? Who does that, how does it get done, how do they get by with laying labels like this on people?”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is the only black Republican in the Senate, cast King’s remarks and those like them as a blemish on the country and the Republican Party.
“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,” Scott wrote in an op-ed last week in The Washington Post.
King’s views, Scott added, are separate from the conservative movement and “should be ridiculed at every turn possible.”
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” Scott wrote.
King’s position in the GOP had been imperiled even before his remarks about white supremacy.
Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, in which King was running, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, then the head of the GOP campaign committee, issued an extraordinary public denunciation of him.
King has already drawn a primary challenger for the 2020 election: Randy Feenstra, a GOP state senator.