Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on Thursday called for Congress to "censure" Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE (R-Iowa) after the lawmaker questioned why terms like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" are offensive.
"Congress ought to vote to censure him, and then he ought to be primaried ASAP," Shapiro, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, Shapiro asked his followers to donate to the campaign of Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R), who announced on Wednesday that he would challenge King for his northwest Iowa House seat in 2020.
Feenstra thanked Shapiro in a tweet, arguing that King's "caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table."
Donate to his primary challenger, Randy Feenstra, here. I plan on doing so. https://t.co/0RJIs63svi— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 10, 2019
Thanks, Ben.— Randy Feenstra (@RandyFeenstra) January 10, 2019
Our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table. We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions, we need to start winning for Iowa’s families. https://t.co/Cq86ha0pYE
Shapiro's comments follow after King told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday that he did not consider himself a racist. King, in the interview, also questioned when terms like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" became offensive.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King, who has represented Iowa's 4th Congressional District since 2013, asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King, responding to the article later in the day, said he is not a white supremacist or white nationalist. "I am simply a Nationalist," he said in a statement.
My statement on the New York Times article. pic.twitter.com/IjBHgZYgRD— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 10, 2019
King's statements prompted outrage from a range of journalists and conservative commentators. Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, called the comment "simply contemptible."
Simply contemptible— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) January 10, 2019
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. https://t.co/Q33dpfJeBn
Stephen Hayes, the former editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, asked: "What sane, thoughtful conservative would choose to remain in a party home to such an unapologetic bigot?"
Rep. Steve King (Racist - IA): “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" What sane, thoughtful conservative would choose to remain in a party home to such an unapologetic bigot? https://t.co/aykLuU1cVZ— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) January 10, 2019
King has faced scrutiny over his comments on subjects such as immigration in the past. He once tweeted that diversity is not America's strength.
In 2018, he defended his association with a far-right Austrian group with links to the Nazi party and hard-line views on immigration, saying that “if they were in America ... they would be Republicans."
His public comments led multiple corporations to announce that they would stop making campaign contributions to the congressman. King beat his Democratic challenger by 3 percentage points during November's midterm elections.
But his path to reelection in 2020 may face more obstacles. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said on Thursday that she would not endorse King, adding that his last election was a "wake-up call for it to be that close."
Updated: 2:22 p.m.