Representative Steve King won’t cancel his planned trip to Colorado this weekend, even though the conservatives he had planned to help don’t want to be associated with him. Via Swing State Project’s morning news roundup I found this Loveland Connection article following up on the controversy over King’s recent comments on race. King is not backing down on his claim that President Barack Obama’s “default mechanism” on race “favors the black person.” As I discussed yesterday, the comments prompted Colorado Congressional candidate Cory Gardner to cancel a fundraiser King was supposed to headline and got King uninvited from a Northern Colorado Tea Party rally to be held in Loveland. From the Loveland Connection piece:
King said he called both [Northern Colorado Tea Party director Lesley] Hollywood and Gardner on Tuesday after their cancellation announcements.
“I have spoken with her and Cory Gardner both, and neither one of them disagreed with what I said or the position I have taken,” King said in an interview.
Gardner’s campaign manager, Chris Hansen, flatly rejected King’s characterization of his conversation with the Northern Colorado congressional candidate: “That is not an accurate reflection of Representative Gardner’s views,” he said in an e-mail.
Hollywood was interviewed Tuesday morning but couldn’t immediately be reached for comment after King’s interview.
The Iowa congressman said he told Gardner and Hollywood he’d be in Colorado on Saturday.
“I pointed out to them that I’m coming to Colorado, that’s in my schedule and they’ll have to figure it out from there,” he said.
He declined to elaborate on his weekend plans: “We will make some arrangements so that works out to be effective.”
A spokesman for Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, a Republican Senate candidate who also will speak at the Loveland rally, also rejected King’s statement.
“His comments do not represent the Tea Party,” Buck spokesman Owen Loftus told The Associated Press.
Stay tuned–this could get interesting over the weekend if the rank and file Colorado tea partiers stand by King. He typically gets a warm reception from tea party crowds, as Joseph Morton noted in this story for the Omaha World-Herald:
King said that the controversy over his comments had been drummed up by liberal activists and that he was surprised both the Gardner campaign and the local tea party leadership “caved” in the face of that controversy.
“That’s not the kind of people I want guarding my back,” King said. […]
King has spoken at numerous tea party rallies, including one in Washington in April. King was introduced to the enthusiastic crowd as a “tea partier on the inside” and a congressman who is “tea party tested and tea party approved.”
He also hung one of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flags popular among tea party regulars outside his Capitol Hill office. He said at the time that the flag has become “the symbol of taking our country back.”
Obama and race also were mentioned in a speech made last month by King.
“When he had an Irish cop and a black professor, who’d he side with?” King asked. “He jumped to a conclusion without having heard the facts. And he ended up having to have a beer summit.
“The president of the United States has got to articulate a mission. And instead, he’s playing race-bait games to undermine the law enforcement in the state of Arizona and across the country.”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn clearly wants this controversy to blow over, but King would rather stand his ground, even if he embarrasses fellow Republicans in the process.
UPDATE: King tweeted on Thursday, “I will do media and two events in Colorado Saturday. One at Elizabeth at 11:00, one at Loveland at 2:30 with Tancredo and others.” Can’t wait!
Meanwhile, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky said today,
“King’s statements reflect an absolute callous disregard for the truth and is an embarrassment to all Iowans,” Dvorsky said. “I’m calling on Sen. Grassley, Terry Branstad, and Iowa Republicans to join me and the Northern Colorado Tea Party in denouncing Steve King’s irresponsible and divisive comments.” […]
“It’s truly unfortunate that Matt Strawn and other Iowa Republicans haven’t mustered the courage to put him in his place,” Dvorsky said. “This is a Congressman that spends more time trying to make the news than working for his constituents. It’s time for Iowa Republicans to make a stand and let Rep. King know this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated.”
UPDATE: Isaiah McGee, the rising African American star of the Republican Party of Iowa, defended King in this post at The Iowa Republican blog. The Iowa Democratic Party asked whether Terry Branstad was indirectly defending King, noting that McGee serves as Young Professionals Chair for the Branstad campaign.