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“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior” wrote top House Republican Rep. Steve Stivers from Ohio this week in a tweet.
Stivers is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which holds the purse strings to key campaign dollars. His statements indicate the party will not come to the eight-term Iowa Congressman Steve King’s rescue in what is tightening reelection race — one of the tightest reelection races of King’s career. That’s significant considering the NRCC has run a slew of racist dog whistle campaign ads this cycle; it seems Steve King, after years of being one of the worst voices of the GOP, has finally gone too far for the NRCC.
Yet there’s one Republican figure who can’t seem to quit King. When asked about King’s white nationalist ties by the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could only muster a weak retort. After feigning ignorance to King’s activities, Cruz said King is “saying and doing things that are dividing us, that are pulling us apart. We need to be finding ways to come together.” But even after this weak statement, and after general Republican distancing from the Iowa Congressman, Cruz felt it necessary to make a “personal call” to to convey support for King.
In answering the same question by the Dallas Morning News, Cruz said, “when it concerns immigration, the language we use really matters.” Well, let’s take Cruz at his word. What language has his good friend Steve King used to talk about immigration and immigrants?
But it does not appear that Cruz is too concerned with King’s language on immigration even as King echoes white nationalists and uses hateful, dehumanizing, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric. (That is, after all, what leader of the party Donald Trump continues to do.) Not only has Cruz failed to condemn the words and actions of Steve King unequivocally, but Cruz has continually embraced him. Cruz even named King the national co-chair of his 2016 Presidential bid.
As Mario Carrillo, Texas State Director of America’s Voice said in a statement:
For Cruz, King is long-time ally and supporter. But, Latinos across the country know him and his hateful words about us very well. As the saying goes, “dime con quien andas y te digo quien eres”, or, “tell me who you’re with and I tell you who you are”, and Cruz’s continued friendship with King tells us that he has no intention of bringing our divided country together, and will instead continue to demagogue and demonize immigrants.
Both voters and GOP officials should hold Steve King to account for his racism and white nationalism. But voters should also hold Ted Cruz accountable for enabling and supporting King’s bigotry.