Grassley gives Steve King a fresh endorsement, as King concludes his campaign with homophobic remarks

Illustration by Blair Gauntt

Sen. Chuck Grassley issued a new statement endorsing fellow Republican Steve King, following a week when King’s white nationalist ties and rhetoric finally caused the National Republican Congressional Campaign (NRCC) to denounce the eight-term Iowa congressman and drop its support for his reelection bid.

Grassley never mentions the actions and statements that led the NRCC and several major corporations to distance themselves from King in the video endorsement posted on Twitter on Monday. Following an off-screen voice counting down, “two, one,” Grassley began, “Iowa needs Steve King in Congress. I also need Steve King in Congress.”

“I feel like I do a good job of representing Iowans, and so often, I have found Steve King to be such an ally,” Grassley continued. “An ally that I need in the other body called the House of Representatives.”

“He’s worked with so many things that are important to Iowa,” Grassley said, before going on to list agriculture, biofuel and wind energy. During his 16 years in the House, King has not written a single bill on any of these issues that has been passed. The only bill ever written by King to be signed into law changed the name of a post office in his district.

In the video, Grassley makes the bizarre claim that the tax bill President Trump signed in December, which both he and King supported, was “the first time that small businesses had any recognition in the tax code.” Even during his most fact-free moments, Trump has never made that claim.

But it was a different King video clip on Twitter that attracted national attention on Monday. Andrew Bates, of the progressive group American Bridge, posted a clip of King at a campaign event, in which King complains about the NRCC. Not because the NRCC’s chair said the group’s members “strongly condemn [King’s] behavior,” but because it once endorsed an openly gay candidate.

Oh, and also, they sent money over to support a candidate in a primary in California, who was a… he had a same-sex partner that they put all over glossy mailers and — I don’t know if they were holding hands or what was the deal. Man, that’s hard to write a check to those guys [the NRCC] when they do that. So, I’m hopeful that we get conservative leadership in the House. I don’t know where that’s going to go for sure.

As the journalist Eric Kleefeld pointed out, there has been no Republican candidate like the one King was describing this year. But there was in 2014.

It wasn’t just a progressive who caught King making a homophobic remark on Monday. Adam Rubenstein, an editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, was at a King event in Hampton, Iowa, where King told what appears to be joke.

The joke, it would seem, is that the divorced Sonia Sotomayor and the never-married Elena Kagan are a secret lesbian couple eager to betray their country. It’s hard to tell if King chose Cuba is the destination because he thinks of them as American-hating communists, or it’s a confused, racist allusion to Sotomayor ethnicity (the parents of the Bronx-born Sotomayor were American citizens from Puerto Rico). Or maybe it’s both.

Later on Monday, Rubenstein also managed to capture King repeating a racist conspiracy theory about Democrats using “illegals” to undermine America.

King’s history of racist statements has gotten renewed attention in recent weeks, but it’s worth noting he has an equally long record of homophobic remarks. The UK news site, Pink News, pulled together some of his more inflammatory statements in a 2017 story about King, “Turns out this homophobic politician is also a massive racist”:

You might remember Republican Congressman Steve King as the guy who offered to marry gay people to his lawnmower, the guy who claimed evidence for gay parenting is ‘fake’ like global warming research, or the guy who tried to ban trans people from peeing in the Capitol.

None of this has led Iowa Republican officials to reject King. (And the NRCC didn’t mention his homophobia in its statements.) King remains a co-chair of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ campaign, and he was a featured speaker at the governor’s final campaign event in Sioux Center on Monday night.

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