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 KingHouse Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states Conservative lawmakers press Trump to suspend guest worker programs for a year The Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 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 EmmerHouse Republicans voice optimism on winning back the House following special election victories GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Trump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans 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 McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Trump threatens to veto FISA bill ahead of House vote Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections 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 CheneyHillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump ramps up attacks against Twitter The Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up MORE (R-Wyo.) tweeted.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections Blue Dogs call for bipartisan investigation into China's handling of coronavirus 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."