Jeb Bush: GOP leaders need to 'actively support' primary challenger for Steve King

Jeb Bush: GOP leaders need to 'actively support' primary challenger for Steve King
© Getty Images

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Friday called for Republican leaders to “actively support” a primary challenger against Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingHateful words demand stronger response from Congress, President Trump Ex-Bush ethics chief calls for Steve King expulsion after he posted meme of potential civil war Steve King deletes Facebook post asking who would win new US civil war MORE (R-Iowa) after the lawmaker questioned why the terms "white nationalist" and “white supremacist” were offensive.

“It’s not enough to condemn @SteveKingIA's unconscionable, racist remarks,” Bush wrote on Twitter. “Republican leaders must actively support a worthy primary opponent to defeat King, because he won't have the decency to resign.”

Bush was responding to Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerSchultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Elise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House MORE (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, saying that while he disagrees with King’s statement, it was too soon to say whether the party’s campaign arm would support his reelection.

ADVERTISEMENT

King has faced widespread criticism for questioning in a New York Times interview how the terms “white nationalist," "white supremacist" and "Western civilization” developed negative connotations.

“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” King asked.

King later said he was not a white supremacist and condemned the ideology.

During a House floor speech Friday, King said he made a "freshman mistake" when agreeing to an interview with The New York Times.

"One phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy. That was my mistake," King said.

Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) announced the day before the interview was released that he would challenge King for the northwest Iowa House Seat. 

“Today, Iowa’s 4th District doesn’t have a voice in Washington, because our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table,” Feenstra said in a statement. “We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions, we need to start winning for Iowa’s families.”

King’s comments have prompted outrage from a number of Republican leaders and conservative commentators.

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.), the House GOP conference chairwoman, called the remarks “abhorrent” and “racist.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Thursday that she would not endorse King in his next campaign in 2020, telling a local TV station that the last election "was a wake-up call for it to be that close."

Ben Shapiro, editor in chief of The Daily Wire, called on Congress to “censure” King and encouraged his Twitter followers to donate to Feenstra’s campaign.

King faced a tough reelection bid in 2018, defeating his Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, by 3 percentage points