GOP campaign committee chair says NRCC likely won't get involved in Steve King primary

GOP campaign committee chair says NRCC likely won't get involved in Steve King primary
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday said he disagrees with recent controversial statements by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingSteve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments Steve King's primary challenger raises more than 0k in first 10 days of campaign GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Iowa), but it's too soon to say whether the party's campaign arm will support his reelection. 

However, Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerGOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House Steve King faces new storm over remarks about white supremacy Jeb Bush: GOP leaders need to 'actively support' primary challenger for Steve King MORE (R-Minn.) said the committee likely won't get involved during a primary that may become contentious.

Primary challengers emerged after King questioned how terms like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" became offensive during an interview with The New York Times.

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"It's too early to think about campaigns, I mean that's two years away," Emmer told The Hill. "I know he had a primary opponent announced yesterday, I think, but we typically don't play in primaries."

"I disagree with the statements as they've been characterized, as I understand them, and it's not helpful," he later told reporters.

King, who narrowly won his race in November, said he isn't concerned with being primaried next cycle.

"The more the merrier - if there's going to be one there might as well be many. I'm happy enough with that," he told reporters. "And so actually when I heard that announcement today I smiled and I actually laughed a little bit."

The Iowa Republican said his comments were taken out of context and he does not identify as a white supremacist.

"I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define. Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of 6 million innocent Jewish lives," he said in a statement.

In addition to Emmer, a slew of top Republicans slammed King's remarks in the Times.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySteve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments House rejects GOP measure to pay workers but not open government McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Calif.) said King's language was "reckless. wrong and has no place in society."

"These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse," House GOP Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyNY Times prints special section featuring women of the 116th Congress Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King If Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump MORE (R-Wyo.) tweeted.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseDemocrats will push to retake vote on funding government after chaos on the floor Pelosi pulls State of the Union surprise on Trump House GOP blast Pelosi for suggesting State of the Union delay MORE (R-La.) told reporters he thinks "it's offensive to try to legitimize those terms," adding it's important King "rejected that kind of evil, because that's what it is, evil ideology."