On Tuesday, Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee—the campaign arm of the House Republican caucus—becoming the first major Republican leader to seriously condemn Steve King, his fellow Republican congressman who’s embraced being a white supremacist wholeheartedly.
A spokesperson for the NRCC also told Politico that the group wouldn’t help King defend his seat, which is heavily Republican but has seen an influx of money for King’s Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten. A recent Emerson College poll gave King just a one point lead.
King responded pretty much exactly the way you’d expect, sputtering that he’s not a racist while implying that Stivers, who has voted with Trump’s position 99 percent of the time, is a “Never Trumper.”
Speaking to Politico, a source told the website that Stivers apparently “could not stay silent,” which hasn’t ever seemed to be a problem for the nearly 16 years King’s been in office. But aside from that, it’s worth asking: has Stivers seen the NRCC’s own ads this year?
There’s this one, about Democratic House candidate Antonio Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, and former rapper who’s running in an upstate New York district against “moderate” Republican John Faso. Guess which part of Delgado’s profile the NRCC has chosen to highlight?
This one calls Delgado a “big city liberal” and “big city rapper.”
And then there’s this one, which, hoo boy.
Stivers defended the ads against Delgado earlier this month. “There are legitimate issues that come up in campaigns where you want to define your opponent for who and what they are,” Stivers told NPR.
Then there’s this one, which attacks Dan Feehan, a Democratic House candidate in Minnesota, for supposed ties to “radical George Soros,” which the NRCC started running last week after a bomb was delivered to Soros’ home, allegedly by Trump superfan Cesar Sayoc. “Liberals own Dan Feehan,” the ad says. “He’ll never be for you.”
In an appearance on Meet the Press this weekend, Stivers noted that the Soros ad was created by the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm right before launching into a full-throated defense of it. “Our independent expenditure arm is independent,” he said, referring to the wing of the NRCC that created the video. “But that ad is factual. And it also has nothing to do with calling for violence. That ad is a factual ad.”
It’s such a mystery why Steve King and other white supremacists feel so comfortable running under the Republican banner.