President Donald Trump wouldn’t say Friday whether he thinks Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Republican known for overt racism and promotion of white supremacy, should run for re-election next year.
Trump declined to comment and appeared to distance himself from the congressman when asked about King’s decision to run for office in 2020 during a meeting in the Oval Office.
“I haven’t spoken to him in a long time,” the president said, according to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs. (Trump’s ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, who is a former Republican governor of Iowa, was one of those gathered in the room.)
“We’ll have to take a look,” Trump added.
On Thursday, King announced that he would be running for re-election during an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s political program “Iowa Press.” He dismissed critics who point to his white supremacist views.
Asked whether he was “sorry for anything you said,” King replied, “I have nothing to apologize for.”
The Republican faced renewed scrutiny last month after he wondered to The New York Times why “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are offensive terms. His remarks sparked a wave of rebuke from Democrats and Republicans alike, calling on the congressman to denounce white supremacy.
Iowa’s two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, spoke out against King’s remarks, as did House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and conservative political pundit Ben Shapiro. Iowa’s largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, called on King to resign.
Amid the backlash, King released a statement “rejecting” the label of white supremacist and declaring himself a “Nationalist.”
In his interview on “Iowa Press,” King accused the news media, including The New York Times, of misreporting his words.
“If you would just hold these publications to what is true, there is no story whatsoever,” King claimed.