Boycotting Steve King? Good Luck With That.

So my weekly TPMCafe column was on something I also wrote about here yesterday, Rep. Steve King’s bid for presidential “kingmaker” status via an early “cattle call” event whereby hopefuls will be vetted for consistency with King’s extremist views. Given the timing, it could be a really big deal.

I’m not the only blogger calling attention to King’s event: can’t believe I’m linking to her twice in one morning, but Jennifer Rubin has called on the entire Republican presidential field to boycott the Iowa nativist’s “Freedom Summit.”

It would be a grave error for these or other Republicans to attend or to seek the stamp of approval from King, whose language and views on illegal immigrants have been so noxious as to draw rebukes from his own party. King’s infamous comments are indicative of a tiny segment of the GOP that is not only anti-illegal immigration and but anti-immigrant. There is no place in a party, especially one trying to remake its image, for remarks such as those King has uttered.

Well, King’s views are hardly breaking news, and I don’t recall Rubin getting upset when her maximum hero Mitt Romney palled around with King in 2012. Still, you have to enjoy her tactic of using Ted Cruz’s walkout at a Middle Eastern Christian event when his statements of unconditional support for Israel got him booed as a model for how Republican presidential candidates should think about their associations: she wrote after noting that Cruz had already agreed to speak at King’s hoedown.

I’d be shocked if Rubin’s boycott idea gets anywhere. King is very popular among precisely the kind of people most likely to attend the Iowa Caucuses. As I noted in my column, he could have had the Senate nomination there this year for the asking, and we’d never have learned of Joni Ernst’s hog-castrating prowess. Moreover, it’s not like King really stands out in the strange hothouse of Iowa conservatism as much as Rubin suggests:

Hopefully the candidates will reconsider going and instead, choose to attend events hosted the many mainstream conservative organizations that populate Iowa. They have their pick of pro-family, pro-life, pro-farmer and pro-business groups, so they need not attend an anti-immigrant’s shindig.

Well, the two “pro-life” and “pro-family” organizations that usually vie for holding the first GOP presidential cattle call are the local branch of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition and then Bob Vander Plaats’ Family Leader. Steve King is tight with both those groups. Is Rubin willing to insist on boycotts of those groups, too? And will anyone listen? Don’t bet even the smallest Iowa farm on it.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.