This segment on "Deadline: White House" was a little bit like listening to The Professional Left Podcast. Not only did Richard Stengel actually blame Steve King's White Nationalism on the Republican voters who actually love that kind of rhetoric, Nicolle Wallace refused to both-sider anything about the Trump/King race card. "There is no parallel on the Left," she said. Both sides don't, Nicolle? Christmas came late for us this year!
After running clips of Trump being a white nationalist, and Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitt Romney condemning "that kind of talk" about Steve King, Wallace said this:
NICOLLE WALLACE: Those Republicans weren't condemning the president there. They're denouncing this guy. Iowa Congressman Steve King, who just won a ninth term this November. And who's made his fair share of controversial comments over the years. But it was this quote of his to "The New York Times" last week that set people off. King said, "White nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization, how did that language become offensive?" King's comments don't seem to bother the president whose affinity for King goes back years. In 2014, speaking to reporters before a private fund-raiser trump touted King as a special guy, a smart person with really the right views on almost everything. Their ideologies are so in sync Trump said, we don't have to compare notes. Wow. Joining us now, former Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards. Donna?
DONNA EDWARDS: Wow. It's hard to know what to say. I think you're right. It's very tough to find a distinction between Steve King and Republicans are coming out now, and frankly, I think that the disapproval that they've just passed against Steve King is not enough. If the Republican Party wants to remove this cold sore, this cancer from the Republican Party, then it needs to be even stronger and that means not only, I think, the removal of Steve King from the Congress of the United States because he's reflected against the credibility of the Congress, but also rebuking the President of the United States who has aligned himself with Steve King.
WALLACE: Where, Donna, do you see a distinction between Donald Trump's comments about race, which are clearly racist, and Steve King's, which are clearly racist?
EDWARDS: I tell you, I don't. You can especially tell that across the breadth of the last couple years of the immigration debate. Remember, it was Steve King who characterized giving support for dreamers to migrants potentially coming across the border with cantaloupes as their thighs because they were carrying drugs and then Donald Trump coming down the escalator saying the hateful things that he did. There's almost no distinction without a single difference between what the President of the United States has said over and over again, and those he's aligned himself with, and Steve King who despite what he is saying, said on Friday and is saying today on the floor of the House of Representatives has not backed away at all from his past statements and continues to espouse this idea, this hateful ideology of white supremacy and white nationalism. So it's not enough to condemn him, slap him on the wrist, if you will. I do agree it's a heavy sanction on the floor but it's not heavy to be in the United States House of Representatives.
WALLACE: Elise, in the same way that the "Access Hollywood" tape, "grab them by the bleep," set Republicans back a generation with women. I think Republicans are back twice that. I mean, you look at the images of the incoming, you know, I don't know that there are many, but the incoming members of Congress on the Republican side, all white, all men. You look at just the incoming members on the Democratic side, they look like America. What is the Republican Party?
And you can also make the argument this should have just happened years ago with Steve King.
ELISE JORDAN: Like -- you know, I'm not going to give any badges of honor to any of the Republicans speaking out now against Steve King because it's such an obvious thing that it must be done and it should have been done a long time ago. Consider under Paul Ryan's watch in August, Steve King was on a Holocaust memorial junket and manages to meet with Austrian neo-Nazis. This is the kind of stuff he pulls, frankly, all the time, and picking a high target, someone that's powerful, that's a lot harder than going after low-hanging fruit, someone like Steve King and really shows their cowardice. I'm going to salute them, pat on the back, for doing something obvious, but go after the bigger target when he's being a racist and that guy's in the Oval Office.
WALLACE: Yeah, I mean, I have a tape of Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy and Mitt Romney saying that this is, you know, Steve King doesn't represent the party of Lincoln. All three of them defenders of Donald Trump on just about every issue.
RICHARD STENGEL: And I think what's so upsetting about the Steve King thing is not even so much what he has said as odious as it is, but it gives a window into the voters of the Republican party and the people who have supported him and condoned this all this time. Look -- let's parse that line. Like, what's wrong? When did saying white nationalism or white supremacy become a bad word? I mean, the problem is there are voters who are thinking that, too, like, within the Republican party. That those people have nowhere else to go and they have a president who seems to endorse those views which are un-American.
And it has been particularly empowered under Donald Trump. You were working for President Bush when Trent Lott made his statement that Strom Thurmond, how much better off would we have been if he had become president, and George W Bush said this is unacceptable, no, and he resigned.
WALLACE: Part of the problem is we think -- this does not have a parallel on the Left. There just -- it doesn't. There isn't. There isn't a strain of racism on the Left. I don't -- so I think that this gets brushed under the rug. People sort of tolerate -- it's been normalized. Like you just said, they don't have anywhere else to go, so they attach to the Republican Party.
The Republican Party doesn't have to let them.
How -- how do -- how do Republicans sort of get back to doing something decent?
MATT MILLER: They would have to completely reinvent the party. Look, I don't think they had a Road to Damascus conversion over the last couple days and decided they were going to finally try to hold Steve King accountable. What happened -- he says that stuff all the time in the Iowa papers. His mistake was doing it in the "Times." Control of the House changed, and Democrats were going to sanction him on the floor of the house. If Kevin McCarthy was the speaker or Paul Ryan was still the speaker, his comments would have passed the same way his previous comments happened with no action at all. I think the problem for the Republican party is this is now -- this is now the message of the party. Not usually as explicit as Steve King. They don't come out and endorse white supremacy. If you look at their closing argument to voters in the last election, it wasn't just the argument Donald Trump was making but Republican House and Senate candidates all across the country were talking about this caravan of brown people who were charging the southern border and were coming across to take your jobs and to threaten your children. That is the message of the Republican Party now. Until they come up with a different message, you're going to see racist things and what they symbolize. The wall is not a literal wall. The wall is keeping out those people that get in the way of white nationalists.
JORDAN: All Donald Trump's talk about the wall, Steve King has been talking about a concrete wall on the southern border long before Donald Trump ever entered politics. He's the intellectual creator of the idea that Donald Trump picked up and ran with.
WALLACE: Donna, I see you nodding. Let me give you the last word.
EDWARDS: I wouldn't describe Steve King as an intellectual creator of anything, but he was. Let me just say Steve King and the president reechoed white supremacy and nationalism. If Republicans want to do something, get rid of King but condemn your president.
WALLACE: Donna, does this moment scare you? It scares me.
EDWARDS: Well, the only thing I will say, Nicolle, is it doesn't scare me but it's a reminder of how deeply we have to fight for the soul of the nation and if we can't depend on Republicans do join us in this fight, cancel out the Republican Party. It is no longer the party of Lincoln if it continues to tolerate this.
WALLACE: Liz, Kevin, Mitt, let's hear you say the same thing about the president tomorrow when they catch you in the halls.