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 confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips Spicer defends Trump's White House correspondents dinner boycott GOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal MORE (R-S.C.) tore into fellow Republican Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge Steve King: One 'good side' of climate change could be shrinking deserts 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' 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.