Steve King faces increasing pressure to resign after 'white supremacy' remarks

Rep. Steve King’s base of support, including in his home state of Iowa, continues to erode after comments he made appearing to praise white supremacy were published in the New York Times.

The latest salvo came as the Sioux City Journal, a conservative newspaper in Iowa’s Fourth District that had previously endorsed the Republican congressman, called on him to resign. “It's hard for us to summon words that will properly convey how repugnant we view that remark,” said the paper in response to King asking, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” earlier this month.

“Constituents deserve better and more from the man or woman we send to represent us in Washington, D.C.,” wrote the Journal’s editorial board. “If he cares deeply about citizens of the 4th, and we believe he does, King should do what is in their best interests and step down from office.”

RELATED: Rep. Steve King through the years

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Rep. Steve King through the years
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Rep. Steve King through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a Tea Party Town Hall meeting February 8, 2011 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The town hall meeting was held by the Tea Party Express and Tea Party HD to address issues Tea Party members were concerned over. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 19: Dutch politician Geert Wilders speaks with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 19, 2016. Photo by Peter W. Stevenson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JULY 18: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is interviewed on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena on first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 18, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Joni Ernst, center, Iowa Republican Senate candidate, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talk in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Louie Gohmert(2ndL) (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R) R-IA listen while Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders speaks during a press conference about Islam on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders (L) and Rep. Louie Gohmert(R) R-TX listen while Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a press conference April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Wilders was joined by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) to talk about Islam. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA) listen while Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders speaks during a press conference about Islam on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 27: Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor (R-IA), Left, Terry Branstad, Governor (R-IA), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on stage at the 2nd annual Joni Ernst Roast and Ride event on August 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump joined a number of Iowa Republicans speaking to a crowd of supporters. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 27: Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor (R-IA), Left, Terry Branstad, Governor (R-IA), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on stage at the 2nd annual Joni Ernst Roast and Ride event on August 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump joined a number of Iowa Republicans speaking to a crowd of supporters. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO JULY 20; Party Platform: Immigration and National Security. Policymakers discuss immigration, national security and the challenges facing Americas borders.-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)- Moderated by Philip Rucker, National Political Correspondent, The Washington Post via Getty Images. Washington Post RNC Convention Headquarters (Photo by Eric Hanson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talks with reporters in the Capitol's Statuary Hall after President Obama's State of the Union address, January 12, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
NASHUA, NH - APRIL 17: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit April 17, 2015 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The Summit brought together local and national Republicans and was attended by all the Republicans candidates as well as those eyeing a run for the nomination. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters following the House GOP caucus meeting on immigration on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speak to Fox News in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, as House leaders try to find a way to fund the government past midnight. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 03: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, center, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., conduct a rally on the east front lawn of the Capitol to call for the defunding of President Obama's executive action that grant's amnesty to illegal immigrants, December 3, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with Vickie Gardner of Audubon, Iowa, at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks with the media after a meeting of the House Republican caucus in the Capitol to discuss an immigration bill, August 1, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MANCHESTER, NH - APRIL 12: U.S Representative Steve King (R-IO) Steve King speaks at the Freedom Summit at The Executive Court Banquet Facility April 12, 2014 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Freedom Summit held its inaugural event where national conservative leaders bring together grassroots activists on the eve of tax day. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) walks through the Capitol Building on October 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The government has been shut down for 14 days. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) sings the National Anthem during the DC March for Jobs in Upper Senate Park near Capitol Hill, on July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Conservative activists and supporters rallied against the Senate's immigration legislation and the impact illegal immigration has on reduced wages and employment opportunities for some Americans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during the DC March for Jobs in Upper Senate Park near Capitol Hill, on July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Conservative activists and supporters rallied against the Senate's immigration legislation and the impact illegal immigration has on reduced wages and employment opportunities for some Americans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during the Black American Leadership Alliance's 'D.C. March for Jobs' rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington on Monday, July 15, 2013. The rally and march were held to call attention to the impact that illegal immigration has on wages, and lost employment opportunities for low-skilled Americans. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: Rep. Steve King, R-IA., during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 2: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dr. Rosalie Porter, chairwoman of ProEnglish, speak at a press conference on the Official English Act. It would establish English as the official language of the United States government and would require all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after speaking to disappointed opponents of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court's decided to uphold the law, voting 5-4. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 9: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES ? OCTOBER 7: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES �MARCH 31: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks to the crowd at the Tea Party Patriots' 'Continuing Revolution' rally at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, March 31, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC- Jan. 18: Jenny Beth Martin, of the Tea Party Patriots, U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Ken Hoagland, of Repeal It Now.org, during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on efforts to repeal the health care law. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
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King defeated Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten by 3.7 percent in November’s race, surviving controversy over his endorsement of a declared white supremacist in Toronto’s mayoral race and a meeting with an Austrian group associated with neo-Nazism.

Joining the Journal in its call for a resignation was the Des Moines Register, which wrote that King “has lost even the potential to effectively represent his Iowa constituents because of his abhorrent comments about white nationalism and white supremacy.”

“King has often made Iowa a laughing stock on the national stage with his offensive and absurd remarks about undocumented immigrants, comparing them to dogs or disparaging them as drug mules with calves the size of cantaloupes,” wrote the Register’s editorial board. Des Moines is not located in King’s district.

“I think he should find another line of work,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, on Tuesday. “His language questioning whether or not the notion of white supremacy is offensive is absolutely abhorrent, it’s racist, we do not support it or agree with it.”

From left, Steve King, Chuck Grassley, Mike Pence and Ted Cruz

King has been condemned or outright abandoned by a number of Republican allies who stood by him through his long history of racist rhetoric. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, stripped King of his committee assignments. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst condemned King’s most recent comments after previously campaigning with him. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she would stay out of the primary race for King’s seat after keeping the congressman on as a co-chair for her 2018 campaign. King also served as the national co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” wrote Steve Stivers, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who had criticized King even prior to the 2018 election. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

He was still endorsed by Grassley, who said “Iowa needs Steve King in Congress. I also need Steve King in Congress.”

King had attempted to defend his association with international far-right groups by saying, “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.”

Despite his comments to the New York Times, King says has rejected being labeled a white nationalist and voted Tuesday on a House measure to condemn white supremacy. Some congressional Democrats are pushing for a formal censure of their colleague.

The turn on King by Republican colleagues and leadership who ignored years of his prior comments has caused confusion for both King and observers. (King kept a Confederate flag on his desk through 2016 even though Iowa was a Union state.)

Iowa Republicans have said that the narrow margin in his 2018 race — the tightest victory of his nine-term career in an extremely Republican district — have shown him to be too vulnerable to be worth defending, while his comments have become a distraction for Republicans nationwide. If King doesn’t heed the calls to resign, he is expected to face a number of challengers in next year’s Republican primary.

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