GOP senator: Republicans with opinions like Steve King's damage party, nation

GOP senator: Republicans with opinions like Steve King's damage party, nation
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court Breaking down barriers for American military families Top House Dem dismisses reparations as 2020 candidates endorse idea MORE (R-S.C.) tore into fellow Republican Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingSteve 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' Steve King asked if white society is superior: 'I don't have an answer for that' MORE (Iowa) on Friday after King questioned how terms such as “white supremacist”  and "white nationalist" were offensive, writing in an op-ed that Republicans with opinions like King's damage the party and the nation as a whole.

Scott wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post that the party often struggles with “civility and fairness,” pointing to King’s comments, which drew swift blowback from conservatives and Democrats. 

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“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott wrote. “They want to be treated with fairness for some perceived slights but refuse to return the favor to those on the other side.”

“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” he continued. 

King drew sharp backlash on Thursday following the publication of an interview in The New York Times in which he questioned when the terms "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" became "offensive."

Facing blowback, King later sought to defend his remarks, dubbing himself simply a "nationalist" and attempting to offer a distinction between nationalist and nationalism in favor of white people.

“King’s comments are not conservative views but separate views that should be ridiculed at every turn possible,” Scott wrote for the Post. “Conservative principles mean equal opportunity for all to succeed, regardless of what you look like or where you are from.”

Silence from the Republican Party is “no longer acceptable,” Scott wrote.

King, known for his hard-line views on immigration, has pushed fiercely for President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Missouri Gov. declares state of emergency amid severe flooding Swalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin MORE’s long-desired border wall. Trump's push for billions in funding for a wall along the southern border triggered a partial government shutdown last month, which has continued for 21 days as the White House negotiates funding with Congress.

The South Carolina senator added that the Republican debate over immigration has “become conflated with a perceived racism against brown and black people.” Scott argued that he supports border security to boost legal immigration, saying migrants from any country should face consequences for violating immigration law. 

King addressed the backlash during a speech on the House floor on Friday afternoon, describing his choice to interview with the Times as a "freshman mistake."

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

"I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district," he added, stating that he does not endorse white nationalism.

King’s divisive comments about immigration have led to scrutiny in past years. He once tweeted that diversity is not America's strength.

In 2018, he also defended his association with a far-right Austrian group with links to the Nazi Party and hard-line views on immigration.