Steve King; Liz Cheney (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Getty/Alex Wong)

Liz Cheney calls for Steve King to go after he argues rape and incest played a key role in history

Joining Cheney in calling for King to resign were each of the top-polling candidates from the 2020 Democratic field


Matthew Rozsa
August 15, 2019 2:19PM (UTC)

Bipartisan calls for Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to resign from Congress swiftly followed his controversial comments that rape and incest played an important role in the history of human civilization.

"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? 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," King told an audience Wednesday at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa.

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The remarks from King, who is the most overtly racist member of Congress, came in response to a question about whether abortion should be outlawed in cases of rape or incest, a belief held by King.

Among the most pointed rebukes came from the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The congresswoman slammed King's remarks as both "appalling and bizarre."

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

Cheney referenced her past comments that King "should find another line of work" after Republican leadership decided to strip the Iowa congressman of his committee assignments in January after a racist interview with the New York Times, in which he claimed that he did not see a problem with the terms "white nationalist" and "white supremacist."

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? . . . Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?" King told the newspaper.

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Joining Cheney in calling for King to resign were each of the current top-polling candidates from the Democratic presidential field.

"Rep. Steve King should resign. His comments on rape and incest have no place in Congress and fuel a corrosive culture in this country around sexual assault," former Vice President Joe Biden, who championed the "It's On Us" campaign, said. "We deserve better from our elected officials."

"Steve King is a racist, a misogynist and a disgrace to the country," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote on Twitter. He should not be a member of the United States Congress."

Both of the top women candidates called on Americans to "work together" to elect King's Democratic opponent, the former baseball player J.D. Scholten.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted that "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."

"Rape apologists have no place in Congress. Iowans deserve better than Steve King," Sen. Kamala Harris of California added. "Donate now to his opponent, @JDScholten."

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Sen. Cory Booker also stepped in to rebuke King's history of racist, homophobic and other offensive comments.

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The Iowa congressman once made a homophobic joke that the two female Supreme Court justices appointed by former President Barack Obama, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, should elope to Cuba; attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for backing an LGBTQ candidate; attempted to block adding Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill; and endorsed far-right figures, including Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

King has also bemoaned the possibility of America becoming a majority non-white country, once saying that "I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens."

"Iowans are kind, decent, and welcoming people. Steve King doesn’t deserve the honor of representing them, and they deserve much better than Steve King. Let’s help replace him with someone who is as decent as they are," Buttigieg wrote on his Twitter account.

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"My friend @JDScholten is standing up and fighting back against Steve King, and he needs all of our help — because no matter where you live, you know there’s no place for Steve King’s racism, bigotry, and hatred in Congress," O'Rourke said.

Booker added that "Iowans have long deserved better than Steve King and his hateful, insulting words. He should resign. We can show him it's time to go by donating to the guy who will beat him—my inspiring friend @JDScholten."

And the 2020 candidates were not the only ones to weigh in to the hot-button political issue.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., remarked that King's remarks reflected the broader Islamophobia she faces from right-wingers: "Gross! This would explain why these weirdos are fixed on smearing me with claims of incest. Projecting their filth, unreal."

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"The Dow did not drop nearly as far today as Rep. Steve King," said former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

And acclaimed horror author Stephen King moved to protect his good name by clarifying that he was not the guy making such despicable comments: "Let's get 1 thing straight. I'm not THAT Steve King."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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