House

King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) sparked a new uproar Wednesday after making incendiary comments about rape and incest, with Democrats — including multiple presidential candidates — rushing to condemn the controversial lawmaker.

King made the remarks while speaking to the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, on Wednesday, where he sought to defend anti-abortion legislation with no rape or incest exceptions. “What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” the lawmaker said.{mosads}

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that,” he added.

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) tore into the Iowa Republican, suggesting his past and recent remarks made him unfit for Congress.

“As I’ve said before, it’s time for him to go. The people of Iowa’s 4th congressional district deserve better,” Cheney said.

The comments drew swift condemnation from Democratic lawmakers, including multiple presidential candidates. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), who were among the first to respond, called for King to resign.  

“You are a disgrace,” Gillibrand said in a tweet, linking to the article from the Des Moines Register, which was first to report King’s comments.

Booker also used the comments to encourage donations to J.D. Scholten, King’s challenger in 2018, who has announced a new bid to unseat the congressman in 2020. 

Other Democrats were quick to follow. 

“You would think it would be pretty easy to come out against rape and incest. Then again, you’d think it’d be pretty easy to come out against white nationalism,” South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in response to questions from reporters in Iowa.{mossecondads}

“So this is just one more example why there needs to be a sane representative in that district, and that’s why I think J.D. Scholten will be an excellent public servant for people of that district,” he added.

“Steve King is a racist, a misogynist and a disgrace to the country,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “He should not be a member of the United States Congress.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) also encouraged supporters to donate to Scholten and tweeted “no matter where you live, you know there’s no place for Steve King’s racism, bigotry, and hatred in Congress.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) lambasted King’s comment as a “disgusting attack on victims of sexual assault,” calling on the congressman to resign.

“Steve King must resign. His latest comment is a disgusting attack on victims of sexual assault. The people of #IA04 deserve better. We must work together to elect @JDScholten in 2020,” she tweeted.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said King had “time and time again … embarrassed himself and denigrated his office,” while Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) also encouraged donations to Scholten, tweeting “Every woman has the right over her own body — and voters have the right to reject this man for good.”

In a statement, former Rep. John Delaney’s (D-Md.) presidential campaign also excoriated the comments.

“Steve King’s comments were vile, repulsive, and unsurprising. Based on his words and actions, Steve King has made very clear who he is and what he believes. His beliefs and his actions run contrary to everything that Congressman Delaney believes and stands for,” the statement reads.

“That is why Congressman Delaney called for Steve King to resign in January” following the white supremacy comments, the statement adds.

Several of King’s Democratic colleagues in the House also expressed disgust at his comments.

“This is a disgusting interpretation of history, and an embarrassment to the Republican Party,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted. “Humanity exists in spite of those kinds of horrific actions: not because of them.”

“Gross! This would explain why these weirdos are fixed on smearing me with claims of incest,” tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), referencing a baseless conspiracy theory that claims she married her brother to commit immigration fraud.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) also called on King to resign, saying that King making the remarks in support of banning all forms of abortion is “the most despicable part” of his comments.

King was previously stripped of his committee assignments after asking in an interview with The New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

King has made other remarks in the past that have raised eyebrows on both racial issues — such as tweeting “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” — and on the issue of rape, falsely claiming in 2012 that it was “not against the law” for a man to rape and kidnap a 13-year-old girl and force her to get an abortion.

King also defended similar comments in 2012 from then-Senate candidate former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said women’s bodies could “shut that whole thing down” in the event of a “legitimate rape.”

The Hill has reached out to King’s office for comment.

—Updated at 4:58 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Ilhan Omar John Delaney Julian Castro Karen Bass Kirsten Gillibrand Liz Cheney Pete Buttigieg Ro Khanna Steve Bullock Steve King
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