Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Monday became the latest Republican lawmaker to speak out against comments made by Representative Steve King last week expressing bafflement that “white supremacy” had become an offensive term.
“Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position,” McConnell told the Washington Post. “If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”
“I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms,” McConnell said. He added that there is “no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind.”
In a New York Times interview last week, King asked, “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?”
The nine-term Republican later tried to explain away the controversy, criticizing the Times for saying he supported an “evil and bigoted ideology” and claiming in a House floor speech that he had merely asked, “How did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue?”
Three Democratic lawmakers have sought to formally punish King for his remarks. Representatives Bobby Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio filed resolutions to censure King, the harshest punishment short of expulsion for a congressman, while House majority whip James Clyburn of South Carolina filed a motion that condemned King’s comments without aiming to censure him.
The highest ranking House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also condemned his Iowan colleague and said he will be “having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.”
“That language has no place in America. That is not the America I know and it’s most definitely not the party of Lincoln,” McCarthy said Sunday on CBS.
President Trump said Monday that he “hasn’t been following” the controversy.