A week after the general election, Gov. Kim Reynolds took a tentative step towards distancing herself from Rep. Steve King.
“I think that Steve King needs to make a decision if he wants to represent the people and the values of the 4th district or do something else.” Reynolds said at a press conference in Ottumwa, in response to a reporter’s question about recent national attention on King.
The western Iowa congressman, who was a co-chair of Reynolds’ campaign, had been in the national news in the weeks before the election because of his ties to white nationalism and his history of racist statements.
On Oct. 30, the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped its support for King’s reelection campaign, and its chair, Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, tweeted he “strongly condemned [King’s] behavior.”
Congressman Steve 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.
— Steve Stivers (@RepSteveStivers) October 30, 2018
Reynolds, on the other hand, not only never condemned King’s behavior, she refused to remove him as a campaign co-chair. She even had King as a featured speaker at her final campaign rally on Nov. 5.
Between the official kick-off event for Reynolds’ campaign in October 2017 — when the governor called King, who already had a long history of racist statements, “Defender of freedom, our conservative values, candid, independent, principled” — and the final rally last week, King repeatedly made news.
Dec. 8: King tweets, “Diversity is not our strength.” He then quoted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” (Orban is a hero to white nationalists both in Europe and America, and has been widely condemned for his support of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.)
Jan. 12: King defends President Trump’s use of the term “shithole countries” to describe home countries of African immigrants.
Mar. 24: King’s Facebook page attacks Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez using her Cuban heritage.
Jun. 11: King tweets out a false, anti-Muslim story about a Swedish youth soccer program from a European white nationalist site, and adds “Sweden has capitulated to halal.”
Jun. 12: King retweets a British neo-Nazi, adding “Europe is waking up…Will America…in time?”
Jun. 22: King tells Breitbart Radio he doesn’t want Somali Muslim immigrants working in Iowa meat-packing plants: “So as long as they’re preparing this pork for infidels, it helps send them to hell and it must make Allah happy… I don’t want people doing my pork that won’t eat it, let alone hope I go to hell for eating pork chops.”
Oct. 16: King endorses a white nationalist candidate running for mayor of Canada’s largest city, Toronto.
Oct. 25: The Washington Post reports that during an August trip to Europe paid for by a Holocaust memorial group, King met with members of a far-right, anti-immigrant Austrian political party founded by a former Nazi SS officer. During his Austrian side trip, King gave an “exclusive” interview to a site associated with party, in which he endorsed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about immigration that’s widely favored by white nationalists.
Nov. 5: During separate campaign events, King makes homophobic remarks about the NRCC and two sitting justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Later that day, King claims Democrats are trying to “pile on illegals” to steal elections.
Throughout the campaign, Reynolds declined to directly criticize King. She would assert she disagreed with particular statements (“No two people are going to agree on everything,” Reynolds told Iowa Press after King’s comments about Muslims working in meat-packing), before claiming she couldn’t be held responsible for King’s actions and statements.
In response to Reynolds’ comment on Tuesday, King chose to stress what he and the governor have in common.
“Congressman King loves Gov. Reynolds, is thankful to her for signing his Heartbeat Bill into law, and notes that they are birds of a feather because they won by similar margins,” John Kennedy, King’s communications director, said in a statement.