WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Republican campaign arm on Tuesday condemned recent remarks made by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on white nationalism, becoming the highest-profile GOP leader to rebuke the lawmaker.
In a tweet Tuesday, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that King’s “recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate.”
“We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior,” Stivers said.
Stivers’ remarks set him apart from the top three House Republican leaders,- Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana - all of whom have declined to criticize King in recent weeks.
In a tweet later Tuesday, King denounced “establishment Never Trumpers” and attacks that he said were “orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news” whose goal is to “flip the House and impeach Donald Trump.”
“Americans, all created equal by God, with all our races, ethnicities, and national origins-legal immigrants & natural-born citizens, together make up the Shining City on the Hill,” he tweeted.
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King’s Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, said he welcomed Stivers’ comments.
“Last week I issued a challenge for at least one Republican elected official to condemn @SteveKingIA’s recent behavior. I applaud @RepSteveStivers, Chair of the NRCC. Respect,” Scholten said in a tweet.
Stivers’ admonition came hours after Land O’Lakes announced that it was withdrawing its support for King. The company had faced calls for a boycott after news surfaced that it had made a $2,500 contribution to King’s campaign in June. Tech giant Intel also recently announced that it was ending its support for King in light of his recent comments, Fast Company reported.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating for King’s district Tuesday from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” noting that Scholten has vastly outraised King, “in large part thanks to disgusted national donors who view King as a racist.”
Even so, the political handicapper noted that “it’s less clear his views have damaged his political standing back home in northwest Iowa,” where King has been easily re-elected in the past and where President Donald Trump won a resounding victory in 2016.
King has a history of incendiary remarks on race and immigration throughout his 16 years in Congress. Last year, King was widely criticized after he declared in a tweet that he agreed with far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders that “our civilization” cannot be restored “with somebody else’s babies.”
In June, King prompted criticism when he retweeted a message sent by Mark Collett, a self-described “Nazi sympathizer.” King declined to delete the retweet.
Earlier this month, King tweeted his support for Faith Goldy, a white nationalist who was running for Toronto mayor. An editor for the conservative Weekly Standard responded by writing a piece in which he called King “America’s most deplorable congressman.”
And last week, it emerged that King had met in August with members of a far-right Austrian party with historical Nazi ties and declared that “Western civilization is on the decline.”
According to the Federal Election Commission, Land O’Lakes, the purveyor of grocery store staples such as butter, milk and cream, gave $2,500 to U.S. Rep. Steve King’s campaign on June 29. King is an Iowa Republican who is the member of Congress most openly affiliated with white nationalism. He has retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and has displayed a Confederate flag on his desk.
Land O’Lakes was set to announce Tuesday that it would no longer make financial contributions to King after the gun-fueled massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue brought new attention to King’s incendiary comments about race.
The news about Land O’ Lakes’ June donation was amplified by Democrats including former presidential candidate Howard Dean; their tweets set off calls for a boycott.
Among other controversies involving the lawmaker, King recently tweeted his endorsement of Faith Goldy to be the next mayor of Toronto. Goldy has been tied to white supremacists and was interviewed by the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. She also attended the white supremacist Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, during which a counterprotester was run down and killed.
”The Land O’Lakes Inc. PAC has traditionally contributed to lawmakers of both parties that represent the communities where our members and employees live and work and are also on committees that oversee policies that directly impact our farmer owners,” the company said in a statement. “We take our civic responsibility seriously, want our contributions to be a positive force for good and also seek to ensure that recipients of our contributions uphold our company’s values. On that basis, we have determined that our PAC will no longer support Rep. King moving forward.”
On Monday, Judd Legum, author of the newsletter Popular Information, asked why the company had given $2,500 to King. He was retweeted 11,000 times and liked 22,000 times. Many responses included consumers saying they would stop buying the brand. King recently denied that he is anti-Semitic, according to The Washington Post. A call to King’s campaign seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
The Fast Company business magazine reported that Intel, another company that donated to King, has dropped its support for his campaign.
This report includes material from Bloomberg News.