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Wednesday May 22nd, 2019 2:53AM

Senate GOP leader rips Rep. King over white supremacy remark

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday denounced Rep. Steve King over his latest remarks on white supremacy, saying, "There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind."

McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican to criticize King, R-Iowa, who lamented last week that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP House leaders have also condemned King's remarks.

Meanwhile, House Democrats said they'll seek formal punishment for King.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the third-ranking House Democrat and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, introduced a formal resolution of disapproval.

Addressing what he called "a tale of two kings," Clyburn said King's remarks were offensive because they embraced evil concepts.

Invoking the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — whose 90th birthday will be celebrated on Tuesday — Clyburn called on colleagues from both parties "to join me in breaking the deafening silence and letting our resounding condemnation be heard."

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said he will introduce a censure resolution, a more serious action by the House, that Rush said would announce to the world that Congress has no home for "repugnant and racist behavior."

"As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated," Rush said Monday in a statement that also called on Republicans to strip King of his committee memberships until he apologizes.

A third Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, introduced a separate censure resolution against King.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican, we all have a responsibility to call out Rep. King's hateful and racist comments," Ryan said, noting that the white supremacy comments were not the first time King has made headlines for inappropriate language.

The text of Rush's censure resolution lists more than a dozen examples of King's remarks, beginning with comments in 2006 in which he compared immigrants to livestock and ending with his lamentation in the New York Times last week that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.

McConnell, in his statement, said he has "no tolerance" for the positions offered by King, and said "those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King's statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn't understand why 'white supremacy' is offensive, he should find another line of work."

McCarthy on Sunday said that "action will be taken" against King.

One Republican did not join the chorus of criticism. Asked about King's remarks Monday, President Donald Trump said, "I haven't been following it."

King on Friday suggested he's been misunderstood. He said on the House floor that the interview with the Times was in part a "discussion of other terms that have been used, almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people. The word racist, the word Nazi, the word fascist, the phrase white nationalists, the phrase white supremacists."

King said he was only wondering aloud: "How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue? Who does that, how does it get done, how do they get by with laying labels like this on people?"

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is the only black Republican in the Senate, cast King's remarks and those like them as a blemish on the country and the Republican Party.

"When people with opinions similar to King's open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole," Scott wrote in an op-ed last week in The Washington Post.

"Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said," Scott wrote.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also condemned King, telling CNN Monday that King "doesn't have a place in our party" or in Congress and should resign.

King's position in the GOP had been imperiled even before his remarks about white supremacy.

Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, in which King was running, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, then the head of the GOP campaign committee, issued an extraordinary public denunciation of him.

King has already drawn a primary challenger for the 2020 election: Randy Feenstra, a GOP state senator.

___

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