Congress

Rep. King falsely claims he was misquoted on ‘rape and incest’ abortion comment

Iowa Republican demands an apology from the media and his own party

Rep. Steve King talks with reporters at the Iowa State Fairlast week. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

Rep. Steve King demanded an apology over the weekend from GOP leaders and media outlets that criticized him for speculating that humankind may not exist without our species’ history of rape and incest.

The embattled Iowa Republican claimed, misleadingly, that he was misquoted in a Des Moines Register article — later picked up by The Associated Press — about comments he made defending his view that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including in instances of rape and incest.

“Iowans are significantly more positive than they are negative, and they know it’s a misquote, and they know that the AP has, I’ll say, retracted the quote that they initially used because they relied on the Des Moines Register, who did the same,” King said on Saturday at a local town hall, WHO-TV in Des Moines reported.

“And so, when we have a national, viral attack that comes out on a misquote, and it’s absolutely proven — all the folks that did that attack, I think they owe me an apology, including my own leadership,” King said.

Such an apology is, in all likelihood, not forthcoming.

The Register accurately reported King’s assertion that rape and incest have been integral to the growth of the human population.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King told a group of conservatives at an event in Urbandale, Iowa, last week.

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I'm not a part of a product of that,” he said.

Those comments sparked a fresh round of criticism for the Iowa congressman from leaders of the GOP House conference who said King’s comments were “bizarre” and involved a “great deal of problems.”

“It’s time for him to go,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News in an interview last week that King’s comments on rape and incest justify his decision earlier this year to strip him of his assignments on the Judiciary and Agriculture committees because of racist comments he made in January.

“There are things that Steve King said that I do not believe the party of Lincoln would stand for,“ McCarthy said. “And as a united conference, we actually removed Steve King from his committees inside Congress. And I think this just continues to show why that action was taken.”

The Register corrected a different quote in the same story in which King stated his opinion that unborn fetuses should not be punished “because of the sin of the father, and maybe sometimes the sin of the mother, too.”

The Register initially included an abbreviated version of that quote — “It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother.” — before correcting its story.

It’s the second time in less than a year that the embattled Iowa Republican has claimed he was misquoted in an article that went viral for inflammatory comments he made. In both instances, King has neglected to provide evidence to support his claims.

King has asserted, with no substantive evidence, that the New York Times misquoted him in January when it published racist comments he made to the paper regarding the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist.”

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said, the Times reported.

“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” he is quoted as asking.

The full House voted 421-1 on a resolution meant to rebuke King for his comments to the Times, and McCarthy and the Republican Steering Committee booted the congressman from his committee assignments. King voted in favor of the resolution, which stated that the House rejects white nationalism and white supremacy as “hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

Only Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush voted against the resolution, saying it didn’t go far enough to condemn King’s behavior.

King faces a primary challenge and his 2018 Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, who he beat by only 3 points after comfortably winning reelection in previous years, announced earlier this month that he will run for the seat again.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 2020 race for the district Likely Republican.

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