Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, said Friday that members of the GOP leadership “must actively support” a primary challenger for the seat held by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after King questioned why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were offensive.
“It’s not enough to condemn [King’s] unconscionable, racist remarks,” Bush wrote in a tweet, in response to a story from The Hill reporting that the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., wouldn’t say whether the party will support King in his next election.
“Republican leaders must actively support a worthy primary opponent to defeat King, because he won’t have the decency to resign,” Bush wrote.
King made the comments during an interview with The New York Times, and later issued a statement denying that he is a white supremacist and saying, “one phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy. That was my mistake.”
The congressman won his seat by 3 percentage points in the 2018 election. Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra, a Republican, announced prior to the interview’s release that he will challenge King for his seat.
“Today, Iowa’s 4th District doesn’t have a voice in Washington, because our current representative’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table,” Feenstra said in his announcement, according to the Hill. “We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions, we need to start winning for Iowa’s families.”