GOP campaign committee chair says NRCC likely won't get involved in Steve King primary

GOP campaign committee chair says NRCC likely won't get involved in Steve King primary
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday said he disagrees with recent controversial statements by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingLouisiana rep calls Steve King a 'white supremacist' after Katrina comment Steve King contrasts New Orleans to Iowa on disaster response: 'Iowans take care of each other' Pompeo bemoans anti-Semitic language 'even in the great halls of our own Capitol' MORE (R-Iowa), but it's too soon to say whether the party's campaign arm will support his reelection. 

However, Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerProgressive demands put new pressures on Democrats Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Elise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Minn.) said the committee likely won't get involved during a primary that may become contentious.

Primary challengers emerged after King questioned how terms like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" became offensive during an interview with The New York Times.

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"It's too early to think about campaigns, I mean that's two years away," Emmer told The Hill. "I know he had a primary opponent announced yesterday, I think, but we typically don't play in primaries."

"I disagree with the statements as they've been characterized, as I understand them, and it's not helpful," he later told reporters.

King, who narrowly won his race in November, said he isn't concerned with being primaried next cycle.

"The more the merrier - if there's going to be one there might as well be many. I'm happy enough with that," he told reporters. "And so actually when I heard that announcement today I smiled and I actually laughed a little bit."

The Iowa Republican said his comments were taken out of context and he does not identify as a white supremacist.

"I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives," he said in a statement.

In addition to Emmer, a slew of top Republicans slammed King's remarks in the Times.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse leaders need to modernize Congress for the sake of America Overnight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide MORE (R-Calif.) said King's language was "reckless. wrong and has no place in society."

"These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse," House GOP Conference Chair 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 (R-Wyo.) tweeted.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests House Republicans find silver lining in minority MORE (R-La.) told reporters he thinks "it's offensive to try to legitimize those terms," adding it's important King "rejected that kind of evil, because that's what it is, evil ideology."