From NBC News:
WASHINGTON — Republicans tried to take away Rep. Steve King’s platform — but he just won’t stop talking.
“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King said in remarks supporting abortion bans that do not make exceptions for cases of rape and incest, according to video posted online by The Des Moines Register.
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Though most Republican officials have raced to distance themselves from King in recent years, his rationale for the anti-abortion case could cause broader trouble for the GOP for three reasons: he’s been a favorite of President Donald Trump; the policy he was espousing is both unpopular and part of the Republican platform; and his wording may remind voters of the way 2012 Senate Republican nominees talked about “legitimate” rape and what “God intended” in the context of similar legislation.
“If Steve King actually cares about the conservative movement, he would resign from Congress today because by staying in there he’s setting the very causes and movement he cares about back by about a decade,” said a Republican strategist with deep ties to the conservative movement.
For Democrats, King represents an opportunity to tell voters — particularly suburban women — that Republicans are pushing extreme policies based on outlandish ideology.
While King’s take on the justification for an all-out abortion ban is an outlier in the GOP, it does bring attention to a portion of the party’s platform that is not popular with the American public. Most Americans — 63 percent of those polled — say they favor keeping abortion legal in cases of rape and incest, according to a recent survey by PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist. When the life of the mother is in danger, the number jumps to 86 percent.
In 2011, House Republican leaders were embarrassed when they had to rewrite an anti-abortion bill because it included language making a distinction between “forcible rape” and “rape.” Many prominent members of the party had co-sponsored the original version of the bill, apparently without realizing the phrase had been written into the bill.
The following year, then-Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who was then running for the Senate, explained his thinking on why rape victims should not have access to abortions in this way: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
Richard Mourdock, an Indiana Senate candidate, later said pregnancies resulting from rape were “something God intended.” Like Akin, he lost.
The other nagging issue for Republicans as the campaign season heats up is that King has long had a good relationship with Trump.
There’s not much more Republicans can do to the iconoclastic congressman. The question is how much more damage he can do to them.