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Iowa GOP Lawmaker Vows to Win Re-Election Despite Party's Rebuke

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© Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

By Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg

Representative Steve King of Iowa rejected suggestions his re-election bid was in trouble after he was abandoned by Republican leaders and donors over his embrace of white nationalists and for rhetoric that has been denounced as racist.

King said in an interview on Wednesday that his internal polling this past weekend showed him ahead of his Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, by 18 points. He dismissed a poll out Tuesday by the liberal firm Change Research that showed him leading by just one point.

Earlier this week, Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, took the highly unusual step of renouncing King just a week before the midterm elections that will decide control of Congress.

Stivers said he acted after last Saturday’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue brought renewed attention to some of King’s remarks. Dairy giant Land O’Lakes and semiconductor maker Intel Corp. then said they would stop donating to King.

“Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate,” Stivers said on Twitter. “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

King, 69, has a history of associating with members of far-right, nationalist movements both at home and abroad. He also has been at the forefront of a right-wing push to end birthright citizenship, a goal President Donald Trump has highlighted in recent days.

King said his critics failed to offer anything specific.

"It’s uninformed. If it wasn’t, they would’ve cited something that gave them grief," King said on Wednesday. "Same with Stivers. If you attack someone and you don’t cite anything, you’re just a cannibal. That’s all you are."

King, in the interview, praised Trump on his vow to end birthright citizenship by executive order and argued that the president has the power to do so.

King said the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship shouldn’t apply to people who weren’t admitted to the U.S. as residents. If so, "you could put the same definition on an invading army, and argue that an invading army comes in, and if there are females in that army and have babies, they’re citizens," he said.

King’s pollster is Chris Wilson, he said, who has also worked with Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, who is facing a competitive re-election challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

King said Cruz called him on Wednesday and expressed support. King co-chaired Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign in Iowa, the key early caucus state, which the Texan won.

Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier called the conversation "a personal call, and Senator Cruz told him the same thing he said to reporters today,” she said. Cruz was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as calling King’s remarks “disappointing” and divisive but he didn’t condemn the congressman.

As for Stivers, King wouldn’t elaborate on the rare rebuke from a party’s top election strategist against an incumbent so close to an election. But he suggested he would after Election Day.

"That’s as far as I’m willing to go right now," King said. "Unlike him, I’m not willing to risk the majority by following my instincts here. Those are scores that can be settled after the election."

Before Stivers’s comments, the non-partisan Cook Political Report downgraded King’s race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” Scholten, a former paralegal and professional baseball player from Sioux City, has raised $1.7 million to King’s $741,000 for this election cycle.

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Politics - U.S. Daily News: Iowa GOP Lawmaker Vows to Win Re-Election Despite Party's Rebuke
Iowa GOP Lawmaker Vows to Win Re-Election Despite Party's Rebuke
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