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Steve King: 2020 presidential candidates, GOP challenger, condemn ‘rape and incest’ remarks

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Steve King: 2020 presidential candidates, GOP challenger, condemn ‘rape and incest’ remarks

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While speaking in Urbandale, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, wonders ‘would there be any population of the world left’ without rape or incest. He made the remarks at the Westside Conservative Club on on Aug. 14, 2019.
Kelsey Kremer, kkremer@dmreg.com

Both Republicans and Democrats condemned U.S. Rep. Steve King on Wednesday for comments the Iowa Republican made defending no abortion exemption even in cases of rape or incest.

While speaking with the Westside Conservative Club, King said people may not currently exist if not for rape and incest throughout history.

“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?” he said in Urbandale, Iowa.

► More: U.S. Rep. Steve King says if not for rape and incest, ‘would there be any population left?’

King, who is Catholic, said that just because conception happened through rape or incest, it does not mean the result isn’t a person.

“It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother,” he said.

Iowa Republican challengers condemns King’s comments

State Sen. Randy Feenstra, a Republican challenger for King’s seat in the 4th District, spoke out against his remarks, even though he is anti-abortion.

“I am 100% pro-life but Congressman King’s bizarre comments and behavior diminish our message and damage our cause. We can’t afford to hand the 4th District to Nancy Pelosi and her allies in Congress,” Feenstra said in a statement. “President Trump needs defenders in Congress, not distractions. In the State Senate, I’ve been an effective conservative who has fought for our values and delivered conservative results. I’ll do the same in Congress.”

I am 100% pro-life but Steve King’s bizarre comments and behavior diminish our message & damage our cause. Trump needs defenders in Congress, not distractions. I will ensure we win this seat & I’ll be an effective conservative leader in Congress. #IA04https://t.co/x8M58B0gh0

— Randy Feenstra (@RandyFeenstra) August 14, 2019

► More: Iowa’s Steve King has a history of controversial remarks. Here are some that riled people up.

Jeremy Taylor, a Sioux City Republican also challenging King in the primary, said King’s statements jeopardize his party’s chance of holding onto the seat. He said he would be “a champion for the unborn.”

“As a US Army chaplain, my passion for this issue is at the core of who I am,” Taylor said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Congressman Steve King continues to be in the press for all of the wrong reasons. His comments feed the left, the mainstream media, and puts Republican control of this seat and our ability to take back Congress in jeopardy. We must nominate a conservative who can win.”

Iowa GOP spokesman Aaron Britt, per WOI Local 5 reporter Sarah Beckman, called King’s remarks “outrageous” and said they “are not reflective” of the state party.

NEW: The @IowaGOP responds to the @SteveKingIA firestorm…

Iowa GOP Spokesman Aaron Britt: “These comments are outrageous and are not reflective of the views of the Iowa Republican Party.”#iapolitics

— Sarah Beckman (@SarahBeckman3) August 14, 2019

Iowa Democratic challenger calls King’s remarks ‘hateful ideology’

Democrat J.D. Scholten, who’s making a second bid to win King’s seat, said in a statement that King is again putting “his selfish, hateful ideology above” the Iowans in the district.

“Excusing violence — in any way — is entirely unacceptable,” Scholten said in the statement. “Here in Iowa, we stand strong together in the face of violence, and strive to create a welcoming and safe community for all people. His comments are disrespectful to survivors and don’t reflect Iowan values.

Theresa Greenfield, a Democratic challenger running against Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said King is racist, misogynistic and out of touch with Iowan ideals.

Time and time again, Steve King has told us exactly who he is: racist, misogynist, and out of touch with Iowa values. These comments are disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. #IA04#IAPoliticshttps://t.co/1UaPpALnFEpic.twitter.com/uYyl1xuIPb

— Theresa Greenfield (@GreenfieldIowa) August 14, 2019

Iowa Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer, King’s colleague, calls comments ‘cruel’

Finkenauer, who said King was an “embarrassment” shortly before she was elected, said on Twitter King’s comments were “incredibly cruel & disrespectful to survivors. Steve King & his values, his rhetoric, & his disdain for decency is a far cry from the Iowa I know. He doesn’t represent who we are & he continues to be an embarrassment to our state & federal delegation.

This is incredibly cruel & disrespectful to survivors. Steve King & his values, his rhetoric, & his disdain for decency is a far cry from the Iowa I know. He doesn’t represent who we are & he continues to be an embarrassment to our state & federal delegation #ia01https://t.co/nQ6L7ZKRRG

— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) August 14, 2019

She further said: “In this discussion about ‘Who we are as Iowans’ & the narrative that King represents our values as a state because he was re-elected, please #ia01 . We are better than his rhetoric & I’m offended by his association to our state. This isn’t about D or R, it’s about decency.”

GOP U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley: ‘Rape and incest are never justified’

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office described him as “proudly pro-life,” and linked to a bill he is sponsoring with fellow Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It includes an exemption for abortions in case of rape or incest or to save the pregnant woman’s life.

The bill, dubbed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, has had hearing in the Judiciary Committee, which Grassley serves on.

“Senator Grassley is proudly pro-life,” Grassley’s communication director Michael Zona wrote in an email.” He prefers to focus on legislation and results rather than the commentary of others. It should go without saying that rape and incest are never justified.”

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s spokesman Brendan Conley had similar comments: “Sen. Ernst is proudly pro-life but it is without question that instances of rape or incest should be condemned.”

GOP House leadership: Comments ‘underscore why we removed him’

Republican House Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, told Politico that’s King’s comments are “wrong, offensive, and underscore why we removed him from his committees.” Scalise is the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

King was removed from his House committee assignments in January after he questioned in an interview with the New York Times when terms like white supremacist became offensive. Around that time U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming and the No. 3 Republican in the House, said King “should find another line of work.” Her opinion had not changed Wednesday.

In a tweet, she called his comments “appalling and bizarre,” and said that Iowans in the 4th District “deserve better.”

Today’s comments by @RepSteveKingIA are appalling and bizarre. As I’ve said before, it’s time for him to go. The people of Iowa’s 4th congressional district deserve better.

— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) August 14, 2019

2020 Democratic presidential candidates rally behind Scholten, call on King to resign

A number of Democratic presidents are linking to donations for Scholten’s campaign or calling on King to resign from his position in Congress.

The Iowa director for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign called for King to resign for the “vile” statements.

Booker, a Democrat representing New Jersey, endorsed Scholten.

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: https://t.co/v3Kd7Y9JCVhttps://t.co/g6cgOswmjp

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 14, 2019

Montana Governor Steve Bullock tweeted that women have autonomy over their bodies and included a link for donations to Scholten’s campaign.

“Every woman has the right over her own body — and voters have the right to reject this man for good,” Bullock tweeted.

Every woman has the right over her own body — and voters have the right to reject this man for good.

Donate to @JDScholten: https://t.co/ZvD90h3NbUhttps://t.co/KSzkAk6S6o

— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) August 14, 2019

During his campaign event in Tipton, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg told the press gaggle that it shouldn’t be difficult for King to “come out against rape and incest,” he said on Wednesday.

“You would think it would be pretty easy to come out against rape and incest. Then again, you’d think it’d be pretty easy to come out against white nationalism. So this is just one more example why there needs to be a sane representative in that district, and that’s why I think J.D. Scholten will be an excellent public servant for people of that district,” Buttigieg said. 

Presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted that King “has no place in Congress,” and that King denigrates the office.

He also offered his support to Scholten in the form of a road trip “to unseat this bigot.”

Castro is the former Secretary of Human and Urban Development in the Obama administration.

Steve King has no place in Congress. Time and time again, he has embarrassed himself and denigrated his office.

Hey, @JDScholten, I’m ready for another Winnebago road trip—it’s time to unseat this bigot.https://t.co/eHnsSqLA7F

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 14, 2019

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland’s national press secretary called the comments “vile, repulsive and unsurprising,” and noted that Delaney called for King’s resignation in January. 

“Iowans deserve a member of Congress whose vision and moral compass is based in the 21st century, not the 1850’s,” Delaney’s press secretary, Michael Starr Hopkins, said in the statement before voicing support for Scholten’s campaign.

Help restore decency to Congress by donating to @JdScholten today: https://t.co/JEVjBBUMWdhttps://t.co/tcTvst9gtu

— John Delaney (@JohnDelaney) August 14, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Twitter that King should resign and that the comments “have no place in Congress and fuel a corrosive culture.”

“We deserve better from our elected officials,” Biden added.

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.

We deserve better from our elected officials. https://t.co/QRXM3nUP8s

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 15, 2019

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York bluntly said on Twitter, “You are a disgrace. Resign,” and tagged King in the post.

In the following tweet, she posted a donation link for Scholten’s campaign, saying all Iowa 4th District constituents and women deserve a better leader.

.@SteveKingIA: You are a disgrace. Resign. https://t.co/Tbu1e1mZ9O

— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) August 14, 2019

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota tweeted support for Scholten and said it’s time for King to go. She also called his comments “reprehensible.”

Steve King’s remarks are reprehensible. It’s time for him to go. Donate to his opponent @JDScholten now – https://t.co/wrzQLtHfwEhttps://t.co/Q3mjuMfCfO

— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) August 14, 2019

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted that “Right now is a really good time to help make sure this election is (Steve King’s) last,” and posted a link to donate to Scholten’s campaign.

Right now is a really good time to help make sure this election is @SteveKingIA’s last. Donate to @JDScholten today: https://t.co/OKvTuzfl9Thttps://t.co/zWEEqZMsUc

— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) August 14, 2019

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas urged support for Scholten in light of King’s comments.

“No matter where you live, you know there’s no place for Steve King’s racism, bigotry, and hatred in Congress,” O’Rourke tweeted. He added a link to Scholten’s online fundraising page.

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.

Pitch in: https://t.co/X0C2Yrt8tqhttps://t.co/PDzXsj36mF

— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 14, 2019

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called King “a racist, a misogynist and a disgrace to the country,” and said that he should not be in Congress.

Steve King is a racist, a misogynist and a disgrace to the country. He should not be a member of the United States Congress. https://t.co/QZbXSEFpdw

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 14, 2019

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted that King’s comments are “a disgusting attack on victims of sexual assault,” and that “we must work together to elect (Scholten) in 2020.”

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. https://t.co/y5QDB4ToHc

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 14, 2019

“Rape apologists have no place in Congress,” U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweeted. She said that “Iowans deserve better” than King in Congress and urged her followers to donate to Scholten. 

Rape apologists have no place in Congress. Iowans deserve better than Steve King. Donate now to his opponent, @JDScholten. https://t.co/jQnerNfcGT

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 14, 2019

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio called the incident “appalling.” He linked to Scholten’s fundraising page and urged followers to “help restore dignity to this seat.”

This is appalling. Help restore dignity to this seat https://t.co/Vzrq1nfjrshttps://t.co/xoiBuEhlLS

— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) August 14, 2019

Read or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2019/08/14/steve-king-senator-offensive-rape-incest-comment-population-jd-scholten-randy-feenstra-4th-district/2010467001/

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