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 KingKing rips GOP leadership after criticism over 'white supremacist' remarks House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King Des Moines Register calls on Steve King to resign 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 EmmerGOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House Steve King faces new storm over remarks about white supremacy Jeb Bush: GOP leaders need to 'actively support' primary challenger for Steve King 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 vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House 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 CheneyKing rips GOP leadership after criticism over 'white supremacist' remarks House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King Des Moines Register calls on Steve King to resign MORE (R-Wyo.) tweeted.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseScalise: Trump wants Congress to solve shutdown problem Scalise on Steve King's white supremacy remarks: 'There is no place for hate' House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on 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."