Rep. Steve King said he plans to run for re-election and rejected responsibility for his statements in The New York Times that appeared to defended white nationalism.
"I have nothing to apologize for," the Iowa Republican said in an interview released Thursday when asked if he was sorry for his words. He was being interviewed on "Iowa Press," a show on Iowa Public Television.
"We know what the news media has done continuously," King said. "Each thing starts out with some formerly credible organization that launches this. And then we have this phenomenon that America is not ready for and that's this cyberbullying that unleashes."
King was stripped of all committee assignments and rebuked by members of his own party last month after The New York Times article appeared.
In the article, King, as part of a defense of what he said was the "culture of America," asked how certain terms had become controversial in modern discourse.
"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" he told the Times. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
Despite the rebukes, and the possibility of primary challengers motivated by the controversy, King said he has no plans to retire from Congress.
"I would tell (voters) don't let the elitists in this country, the power brokers in this country, tell you who's gonna represent you in the United States Congress. That's the central message," King said. "Republicans out there don't take issue with any of my votes or any of my positions on these issues. I don't see my political opponents coming out and saying, 'I would have voted differently.' "
The congressman didn't seem worried about his re-election chances in 2020. He said Iowa voters see him as a fighter who "was able to inject Iowa values into the presidential race."
King won his 2018 race by 3.6 percentage points.
He said the entire controversy was started by an interview in which he claims he was misquoted.
"I wish someone would ask (the New York Times reporter) to produce a tape or transcript or at least ask him what question he asked," King said.
The incriminating quote, King said, was similar to what he had said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor earlier. In that interview, King said, he discussed confusion over the term Western civilization being offensive and discussed the "weaponization" of language.
The Christian Science Monitor interview "described that these terms have been weaponized by the left," King said. "And I used the terms racist and Nazi and fascist and white nationalist. I didn't say the other word, the white supremacy one."
King said he does not think in terms of the "odious ideologies of white nationalism or white supremacy" and that he had never even been recorded saying the terms.
"In all of history LexisNexis shows that I have never said either one of those terms that identified as the odious ideologies, never. But 276 times I've used the words Western civilization," King said.
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