Representative Steve King said only death could keep him from running for a tenth term in 2020 in his Iowa district despite multiple controversies that have put him on the wrong side of his own party.
“Thirteen days out we were up 18 points. Then, Republican leadership turned on me and Steve Stivers attacked me a week out and raised a million-and-a-half dollars for my opponent,” King said in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
A week before last year’s midterm elections, Ohio congressman Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee at the time, reportedly felt that he “could not stay silent” on comments by King that Stivers found to be racist.
“We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior,” Stivers wrote on Twitter in October.
“Even with that, and millions of dollars of media that was poured against me, some of it strategized, some of it organic, I don’t think anybody has faced such a nearly perfect storm as I have faced,” King said.
In January, the Iowa Republican was excoriated by colleagues for asking in a New York Times interview, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
Now, King insists he never said the quote, adding that he believes white nationalism is an “odious ideology.”
“The New York Times quote is wrong, it’s a misquote, I don’t know if it’s willful or whether it’s just accidental,” he said.
If that were not enough controversy, King also appeared to downplay the evil of rape and incest during a speech on his pro-life stance earlier this month.
“What if it was okay and what if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest. Would there be any population in the world left if we did that?” King said.
King attempted to explain those remarks as well, saying his intention was not to stigmatize the victims of crimes.
“I don’t want to stigmatize the survivors of rape and incest,” King said. “Those babies that are born are as sacred as [my grandchildren]. … We should not execute those innocent little babies almost always because of the sins of the father.”
On the possibility of retiring in 2020, as some members of his party have suggested he do, King rejected the idea vehemently.
“No. Unless I’m dead. That’s the only circumstance.”
“None of my language was offensive,” King complained.