Angry protesters greeted Iowa 4th District Congressman Steve King today, who spoke as part of a candidate forum at the Greater Des Moines Partnership downtown.
"Drop Steve King," the protesters chanted as a crowd gathered to hear King speak.
Activists point to last weekend’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and they say the shooter’s white supremacist views echo those of Congressman King.
“You and the shooter both share anti-immigration views and the view that western civilization is under attack,” said Iowa State University student Kaleb Van Fosson in a question-and-answer session after King’s address. “What distinguishes your views and your ideology from the views and ideology of the shooter?”
Van Fosson lives in King’s 4th District. He had been one of the speakers at the protest before the forum at the Des Moines Partnership office. King angrily cut off Van Fosson’s question, and threatened to walk out of the forum if he did not stop talking.
“Don’t you do that,” King said. “Do not associate me with that shooter. I knew you were an ambusher when you walked in the room. But there's no basis for that and you get no question and you get no answer.
“You’re done,” King added, as Van Fossen was escorted from the room.
King also contradicted a report linking him to a Nazi sympathizer in Austria. King this week lost the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee for race-based remarks and support for far-right politicians, and some corporations also distanced themselves from King.
Protesters said the Partnership should not be promoting King’s views.
“I think he's the most extreme in the congress and they’re normalizing him,” said retiree Jan Wann of Mason City, also in King’s district.
King said the protesters “didn’t need to be here.” In his address, he spoke of his good relationship with President Trump, and claimed authorship of Trump’s call this week for ending automatic citizenship for babies born to undocumented immigrants.
King says he supports the president and believes he has the authority to make the change by executive order.
“It needs to be tested in court,” King said, “but I think we will prevail.”
Ohio Republican Steve Stivers also recently condemned King’s positions on white supremacy.
“Stivers’ behavior has befuddled every Republican that I talked to and everyone that I know including our leadership,” King said. “After the election that will be addressed.”
The protester Jan Wann applauded Land O’Lakes, one of the companies withdrawing their support from the congressman.
“I’ll go buy some butter today and make sure it’s the right brand,” Wann said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that Kaleb Van Fosson was a speaker at the protest against Rep. King's participation in the forum, before he came inside for the event at which he questioned King. We have also changed a sentence saying that King had "debunked" a report linking him to a Nazi sympathizer, to say that he "contradicted" that report.