Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday condemned Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) racist remarks in The New York Times last week, but refused to say he wouldn’t support the openly racist lawmaker in the future.
Cruz, who picked King to co-chair his 2016 presidential campaign, railed against King’s comments published in the Times on Thursday, which questioned why the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are considered offensive.
“It was stupid,” Cruz said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “It was hurtful. It was wrong. And he needs to stop. I think all of us ought to be united regardless of party in saying white supremacist, white nationalism is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong. ”
But asked whether he would support King in the future, Cruz deflected.
“What I’m going to do is urge everyone to stand for principles that matter,” Cruz said. “When it comes to speaking out against bigotry ― whether it is the [Ku Klux Klan] or Nazis or anything else ― I have a lifetime of standing up to that bigotry and I’ll continue it.”
In his interview with the Times, King said he supports immigrants of various races legally entering the U.S. ― so long as American culture stays white and European.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King attempted to clarify his comments to the Times in a statement Thursday, calling himself a “nationalist” and rejecting the “labels” of white supremacy and white nationalism.
His bigoted remarks in the Times prompted intense scrutiny from leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday told CBS’ “Face The Nation” that he is meeting with King on Monday and that “action will be taken.”
″That language has no place in America,” McCarthy said on the program. “That is not the America that I know. And it’s most definitely not the party of Lincoln. ... I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.”
McCarthy’s vow to “take action” comes a day after the Congressional Black Caucus released a statement calling on House Republicans to remove King from committee assignments. Those that he serves on include the agriculture and judiciary committees.
“Republicans should make clear Mr. King is no longer welcomed in their party or Congress,” Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the CBC chair, said in the statement. “Anything less than these substantive actions is another tacit acceptance of racism from the Republican Party.”
Despite his long history of making anti-Muslim comments, promoting white nationalist views and retweeting neo-Nazis, King previously faced little pushback from his fellow Republican lawmakers. And while his bigoted rhetoric was called out by several media outlets, including HuffPost, in the run-up to the midterm election in November, King was re-elected to the House for a ninth term.
Watch Cruz’s full interview on “Meet The Press” below:
This story has been updated to include comments from Bass.