Please do not ask Rep. Steve King (R-IA) about being a white supremacist.
Even though the Iowa Republican is in the closest race of his 15 years in Congress, King was not able to maintain civility when asked about his very long history of embracing and endorsing white supremacy on Thursday.
At an event in Des Moines, King called for an unidentified man to be removed after the latter calmly asked him about the similarities between his past racist comments and the rhetoric that reportedly inspired last weekend’s massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. King erupted in a temper tantrum that was posted on Twitter by the local news site Iowa Starting Line:
— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) November 1, 2018
“The terrorist that committed this crime,” the questioner began, “he was quoted as saying, ‘They bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit back and watch our people get slaughtered.’ You, Steve King, have been quoted as saying, ‘You can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies.’ You and the shooter both share an ideology that is…”
“No!” the GOP congressman interrupted. “Do not associate me with that shooter! I knew you were an ambusher when you walked in the room!”
The questioner attempted to clarify that he was asking King to “distinguish” the differences between his ideology and the racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that were amplified by Pittsburgh gunman Robert Bowers.
But the Iowa Republican continued to yell over any attempted follow-ups.
“You crossed the line! It is not tolerable to associate me with a guy who shot 11 people in Pittsburgh!” King screamed before mentioning that he loves Israel because the nation is the same age as him.
“I am not listening to another word from you! This is over!” King yelled before gesturing at someone off-screen. “Sir, stop! You’re done! Lead this man out of the room!”
The seven-term Republican congressman is clearly struggling with the pressure of the first real challenge of his national political career. On Tuesday, in an apparent response to widespread scrutiny of an interview after the Pittsburgh shooting in which he praised a far-right European political party that was founded by a former Nazi SS officer and said members of the Nazi-linked Austria’s Freedom Party “would be Republicans” in the U.S., King called the “attacks” against him “nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news” on Tuesday.
King Response pic.twitter.com/H8iXI3cM1x
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) October 30, 2018
King has recently devoted his Twitter account to retweeting fellow Republicans who claim he is not racist. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), another GOP lawmaker in a tough re-election fight, reportedly called King on Wednesday to offer his support.
Recent polling has shown J.D. Scholten, King’s Democratic challenger in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, closing in fast in advance of next week’s midterm elections. The Cook Political report moved King’s district to “leans Republican” on Tuesday, another sign that the long-time incumbent might finally face some electoral consequences for his white supremacy. Kim Weaver, who unsuccessfully challenged King in 2016, dropped out of the race in June 2017 due to death threats.