Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests Pentagon: Trump's 'cost plus 50' plan hasn't been discussed with Europe Liz Cheney: Dems are 'enabling anti-Semitism' MORE (Wyo.) on Thursday denounced fellow GOP Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingPompeo bemoans anti-Semitic language 'even in the great halls of our own Capitol' Steve King asked if white society is superior: 'I don't have an answer for that' Hateful words demand stronger response from Congress, President Trump MORE (Iowa) after he questioned if terms such as "white supremacist" were offensive, calling King's remarks "abhorrent" and "racist."

"These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse," Cheney, the House GOP conference chairwoman, tweeted shortly after King's remarks surfaced. 

King, who has served in the House since 2003, wondered why terms like "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" were considered offensive in an interview with The New York Times published on Thursday. 


“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

The comments came as part of an expansive report from the Times on King's hard-line views on immigration. They prompted outrage, including from a range of Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators. 

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashProperty is a fundamental right that is now being threatened GOP lawmaker tells party to 'do better' after O'Rourke St. Patrick's Day post The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration MORE (R-Mich.) called the comments an "embrace of racism" that has "no place in Congress." 

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) said King's "embrace of these terms and philosophies are fundamentally wrong and offensive and have no place in Congress, our nation, or anywhere."

King issued a statement on his interview with the Times, asserting that he rejects the "white supremacist" and "white nationalism" labels. 

"Today, the New York Times is suggesting that I am an advocate for white nationalism and white supremacy," he said in a statement shared on Twitter. "I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define."

He added that he considers himself "simply a nationalist."

King has faced scrutiny in the past over comments he's made about race and immigration, including once saying that diversity is not America's strength

Last year, he defended his association with a far-right Austrian group with links to Nazis, saying that “if they were in America ... they would be Republicans."

King defeated his Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, by 3 percentage points in November's midterm elections. 

But he will face new obstacles in the 2020 election. Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) announced on Wednesday that he would primary King for Iowa's 4th Congressional District in 2020. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Thursday that she would not endorse King in his next race, telling a local TV station that the last election "was a wake-up call for it to be that close."