Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has faced criticism in recent days from corporate donors and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee for his endorsements of white nationalism, said Wednesday that he received a supportive call from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
King, who will face off against Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten in a few days, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that Cruz had been supportive in the call. But Cruz told reporters Wednesday that King “is saying and doing things that are dividing us, that are pulling us apart.”
A Cruz spokesperson, Catherine Frazier, confirmed the call to Bloomberg but said it was “a personal call” in which Cruz “told him the same thing he said to reporters today.”
Frazier didn’t respond to TPM’s question about how the call could be supportive, according to King, if Cruz told the Iowa congressman that his rhetoric had been “disappointing,” as Cruz told reporters.
A spokesperson for Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), said the call meant that Cruz was “fueling divisions.”
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) November 1, 2018
The Dallas Morning News noted that Cruz named King a national co-chair of his 2016 presidential campaign. (Pictured above: Cruz, King and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in January 2016.) Cruz also brought on notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney as an adviser for that campaign.
In recent months, King has retweeted two well-known racists, a British neo-Nazi and an American white nationalist YouTuber, and endorsed a white nationalist candidate for mayor of Toronto. He also recently parroted white nationalist talking points to a far-right Austrian magazine.
After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, campaign funders of King’s like Land O’Lakes and Intel have pledged to withhold future support. NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) became the first senior Republican elected official in some time to actually condemn King by name Wednesday.
King told Bloomberg of Stivers’ condemnation: “If you attack someone and you don’t cite anything, you’re just a cannibal. That’s all you are.”
This post has been updated.