After years of racist comments and actions, it appears the walls are finally closing in around Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Following his most recent comments endorsing white nationalism, Iowa newspapers and his own Republican colleagues are calling for him to resign from the northwestern Iowa Congressional seat he has held since 2003.
Iowa’s largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, published an editorial on Tuesday titled “Steve King should resign for the good of Iowa,” a day after House Republicans voted to strip him of all of his committee assignments. The Sioux City Journal, another Iowa paper which had endorsed King’s re-elections as recently as 2016, did the same, urging that “If he cares deeply about citizens of the 4th, and we believe he does, King should do what is in their best interests and step down from office.”
And a growing number of King’s GOP colleagues — including his caucus chair — have also called for him to go in recent days. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who chairs the House Republican Conference, said King should “should find another line of work,” and called his comments “absolutely abhorrent” and “racist.” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) told CNN, “I wish he’d resign, frankly. … He can’t do the work, He’s lost the trust and faith of his comrades. For the good of the party, for the good of the American People, I think it’s time for us to make a change.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who endorsed King during his own unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign, also said King “ought to step aside, and I think Congress ought to make it very clear he has no place there.” Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that King “find another line of work.”
The chair of the conservative Republican Study Group in the House, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) noted that King will not be able to accomplish much if he stays, saying, “When you get stripped of your committee assignments, it’s very difficult to be an effective member of Congress. He’s already drawn a challenger back home and he has to make that personal decision. It would be very difficult to continue having taken that hit to his credibility and not having committee assignments,” Prominent conservatives outside of Congress have also called for King to go, including The View‘s Meghan McCain and One America News Network host Liz Wheeler.
After 423 of his House colleagues voted on Tuesday for a resolution criticizing his racist comments and condemning the white nationalist views he has repeatedly espoused (King himself also voted for the resolution), the House might also consider either of two resolutions to formally censure him.
Not all of King’s colleagues are ready to push him out yet. Asked if King should resign, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) — who called King’s comments “offensive and racist” over the weekend — said on Tuesday, “He is an elected representative from the 4th district. And I trust that the good folks from Iowa in the 4th district will make the correct choice moving forward.” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Minority Leader, said the question was “up to Steve King” as “the voters have elected him.” And Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told Fox News on Friday, “I don’t think he should resign. His voters have elected him.”
And another prominent racist Republican, President Donald Trump, declined to call for King’s resignation.
In 2014, Trump touted King as a "special guy, a smart person, with really the right views on almost everything."
Their ideologies are so in sync, Trump said, "We don't have to compare notes." 2/2https://t.co/l67Hml47vb https://t.co/RRdP360qDF
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) January 16, 2019
Asked Monday about King’s comments, he claimed, “I really haven’t been following it.” Trump backed King’s 2018 re-election in at an October Iowa rally, boasting, “I supported him long before I became a politician.”