Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was so upset by one question about his white supremacist rhetoric that he asked security to remove the questioner during a Thursday candidate forum in his home state.
The unidentified man compared King’s past comments with those made on the internet by accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, an anti-Semite who railed against nonwhite refugees by labeling them “hostile invaders.”
“You, Steve King, have been quoted as saying, ‘We can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies,’” the man said, referencing a March 2017 tweet. “You and the shooter both share an ideology that is anti-immigration ―”
“No,” King interjected. “Do not associate me with that shooter.”
“I knew you were an ambusher when you walked into the room,” King told the man.
When King then claimed there was “no basis” for such a comparison, the questioner responded by asking “what distinguishes” the congressman’s rhetoric from that of Bowers.
“It’s not tolerable to accuse me to be associated with a guy who shot 11 people in Pittsburgh,” King replied, adding that he supports Israel. He did not answer the question.
“Stop it!” King said forcefully when the man asked point-blank whether the lawmaker identified as a white supremacist. “You’re done.”
The congressman, who is running in a tight race for re-election, asked “whoever is guarding” the door to escort the man from the forum, but the man got up himself and left without further incident.
King has steadily lost support among donors and members of his own party since Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The gunman allegedly shouted, “All Jews must die!” before opening fire, killing 11 adults and injuring six others, including three police officers.
Although the eight-term congressman has been an anti-immigrant firebrand for years, he has amped up his rhetoric over the past several months to include retweeting known white supremacists and endorsing a Canadian white nationalist politician.
King also showed himself to be fluent in white nationalist talking points during an August interview he gave to a far-right publication in Austria. There, King repeated his “somebody else’s babies” argument by speaking fearfully about declining fertility rates in the West and his belief that Muslim and Latino immigrants pose a threat to the United States and Europe.
His Democratic opponent in the upcoming midterm elections, J.D. Scholten, has seen a spike in campaign donations, with $350,000 pouring in from 7,500 donors in a 24-hour period this week.
The two candidates are neck and neck in the polls.