Rep. Steve King questions when white supremacy became offensive

    FILE - In this June 8, 2018, file photo, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. King is coming under fire ahead of the midterm election as top Republican officials and campaign donors balk at standing with a Republican congressman who regularly espouses extreme views on race and immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    Rep. Steve King is generating controversy once again over his comments about ideals aligned with white supremacy.

    In a profile in the New York Times, the Congressman from Iowa's 4th District insisted he is not racist, and said, "“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

    Hawaii Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu quickly chastised the comments, calling back to when King asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai why negative articles about him appear at the top of the search engine website.

    Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, tweets that King's remarks are "abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse." And Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan says: "This is an embrace of racism, and it has no place in Congress or anywhere."

    The story itself explores King's influence on President Donald Trump's immigration policy.

    King put out a statement responding to the article on Twitter, clarifying that he considers himself a nationalist, and rejects white nationalism and supremacy.

    King has found himself embroiled in controversy over statements and endorsements of neo-Nazi and white nationalists. Last year, he defended a European neo-Nazi political party. He also endorsed a white nationalist mayoral candidate in Canada in 2018.

    King narrowly defeated Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten in November's general election, and already has at least one GOP primary challenger for his seat, State Senator Randy Feenstra. King's campaign office says Feenstra promised in December he would not run and referred to his announcement as "misguided political opportunism, fueled by establishment puppeteers..."

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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