GOP conference chair calls Steve King's comments "abhorrent and racist"

Republican Reps. Steve King and Liz Cheney.
Republican Reps. Steve King and Liz Cheney. Photos by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call and Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Republican conference chair Liz Cheney condemned remarks made by her GOP colleague Steve King Thursday as "abhorrent" and "racist," and said they "should have no place in our national discourse."

The backdrop: In a New York Times article about his hard-line views on immigration, King was quoted as saying, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” After the article was published, King issued a statement rejecting the notion that he's a racist, claiming that he considers himself "simply a nationalist" and an advocate for Western values.

The big picture: The Iowa congressman has faced scrutiny in the past over inflammatory remarks he's made about race and immigration. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was the first Republican leader to come out against King when he denounced his racist rhetoric in October. King is now facing a primary challenge from Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra.