By Zerlina Maxwell
Writer, EBONY Magazine
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) is leading Republican hopefuls in the latest polls for next year’s Iowa Senate race to replace the retiring Democrat Tom Harkin (D-IA).
Moderate Republicans are worried about the race, and even Karl Rove is warning Republicans that King would lose badly in a general election. What was likely going to be a competitive race to replace Harkin, now seems like an new opportunity for Democrats to not only hold on to a Senate seat, but also frame the debate and peg Republicans as extremist and outside of the mainstream.
Steve King is the poster boy for over the top, racially tinged rhetoric in his attacks on President Barack Obama.
Not only has King compared the president to Saddam Hussein, and called the president “very, very urban,” on the House floor, he has also said, “The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race on the side that favors the Black person,” in comments responding to the Skip Gates arrest controversy.
King was also a birther, long after it was cool to be a birther. King was so down with the birthers, he actually went down to the Library of Congress to “inspect” the microfiche to make sure that the two newspaper articles announcing the president’s birth in 1961, weren’t fakes.
King said of the birth announcements,”It would have been awfully hard to fraudulently file the birth notice of Barack Obama being born in Hawaii and get that into our public libraries and that microfiche they keep of all the newspapers published. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some other explanations on how they might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on.”
Unfortunately for Republicans, the list of Steve King’s racially insensitive and outrageous comments goes on as well. King has compared immigrants to dogs, he said the president’s response to Benghazi was “worse than Watergate,” and he said that Democrats would win Hispanic voters by giving them a “big fat check.”
Just as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock expressed vocally the Republican platform that is as anti-choice as any in a generation, with personhood language banning all abortion,
King’s rhetoric and nomination next year will likely turn off large swaths of voters in the 2014 midterm elections.King even defended Akin’s ridiculous “legitimate rape” comments initially, before he was forced to backtrack. Steve King could be the new Todd Akin. In 2012, the “war on women” propelled Democrats to victory, by creating a sharp contrast between Democrats’ policies towards women and their bodies, and Republicans’ views. That contrast left Democrats with a historic advantage with women, and with King on record as favoring a ban on all abortions, just like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, along with King expressing skepticism towards the idea of contraception, that trend will likely continue.
And just as Akin and Mourdock turned off women to Republicans in 2012, racially charged rhetoric targeting the president that Steve King is famous for, turned off large swaths of minority voters last fall as well. King introduced a bill last year to make English the nation’s official language and has also said that multicultural groups are “people that feel sorry for themselves.”
It was no accident that Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans voted along with African-Americans, overwhelmingly in favor of President Obama’s re-election. People of color viewed the Republican party as uninviting after extreme elements within the party, like the “birthers,” rose to prominence and essentially forced the president to “show his papers.”