Rep. Steve King erupted in anger Thursday when a man compared the Iowa Republican’s anti-immigrant views to the views espoused by Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers.
King, speaking at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, was taking questions at a candidate forum when the man brought up the shooting Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue, which left 11 dead. King cut the man off and ultimately had him escorted out of the event.
King has faced recent criticism for his comments denouncing diversity in the United States and immigration, as well as Democratic mega-donor George Soros, in light of the Pittsburgh shooting and a slew of mailed pipe bombs targeting Soros, other prominent Democrats and CNN.
“The terrorist who committed this crime, he was quoted as saying, ‘They bring invaders and they kill our people. I can’t sit back and watch our people get slaughtered,’ ” the man said as he began to introduce his question.
“You, Steve King, have been quoted as saying, ‘We can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies,’ ” the man added, quoting a tweet from King last year.
“You and the shooter both share an ideology that is fundamentally anti-immigration,” the man said.
“No, don’t you do that,” King said, interrupting the man. “Do not associate me with that shooter.”
King accused the man of being “an ambusher,” which the man said he was not. Iowa Starting Line, a Democratic campaign monitoring site, said the man was a member of the public, not the media.
The man said he was going to ask what distinguished King’s views from those of the shooter.
“No, you’re done, you crossed the line,” King said. “It’s not tolerable to accuse me to be associated with a guy that shot 11 people in Pittsburgh.”
King then referenced his support of Israel.
“I am a person who has stood with Israel from the beginning, and the length of that nation is the length of my life,” the Iowa Republican said, pointing his finger at the man. “And I’ve been with them all along, and I will not answer your question and I’ll not listen to another word from you.”
King threatened that the event would be “over” if the man continued talking.
The man calmly asked King, “Do you identify as a white supremacist?”
King raised his voice, saying, “Stop it!”
“Why did you meet with a white supremacist group in Austria?” the man asked. It was a reference to an interview King did with Unzensuriert, a publication affiliated with Austria’s Nazi-founded Freedom Party, in August. In that interview, King said diversity is “not a strength,” and asked, “What does it bring that we don’t have that is worth the price?”
“This is done,” King said before asking a guard to escort the man out.
“Sorry that you couldn’t answer my question. … I was hoping to get a sincere answer,” the man said while exiting.
“Stop it! Nobody is going to listen to you, you’re gone,” King shot back. “We don’t behave like that in this country.”