Steve King Primghar town hall

Rep. Steve King, of Iowa's 4th Congressional District, speaks at a town hall meeting Saturday at the community building in Primghar, Iowa. It was the Republican congressman's first town hall-style meeting since making controversial comments to The New York Times that resulted in him being stripped of his committee assignments. 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Steve King on Tuesday released a letter signed by 200 "pro-family" leaders who urged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to "do the right thing" and reinstate King to his House committees.

Last month, McCarthy, R-Calif., stripped King of all his committee assignments for the next two years after the Iowa 4th District Republican, in a New York Times story, was quoted as saying, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?"

In the aftermath, King claimed his comments were taken out of context, and repeatedly denied that he harbors white supremacist or white nationalist views. Instead, the outspoken conservative described himself as a nationalist fighting to preserve Western civilization. 

In a Feb. 5 letter to McCarthy, the pro-King leaders said they were "appalled that Republican leadership would choose to believe a liberal news organization famous for their bias over an outstanding member of Congress who has served the people of Iowa and the United States honorably and faithfully for 16 years."

"We call on you to do the right thing as Minority Leader: issue a public apology and reinstate Rep. King to his committee assignments," the letter said. "If you don't stand with this good man against the media-manufactured assault today, none of us will be safe from it tomorrow."

King shared a link to the letter in a tweet Tuesday in which he described the signers as "pro-family leaders." 

"They know when the 'outrageous misquote' of a biased & liberal NYTimes takes free rein to 'falsely brand' Republicans, no conservative is safe," King tweeted.

Among those signing the letter were former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, evangelical leader James Dobson, Operation Rescue president Troy Newman and several members of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles group. A few Iowans also signed the letter.

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King, an outspoken abortion opponent, has repeatedly pushed for measures such as the "fetal heartbeat" bill to limit or outlaw abortion.

In the letter, the religious leaders noted that unlike in North Korea, Americans are "innocent until proven guilty," and "hold to the principles of Western Civilization, as Rep. King so admirably does."

"The foundational principles begin with the self-evident truth that 'all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,'" the letter said. "These are the principles to which Rep. King was referring and which he has championed for more than two decades of public service."

Since his removal from the House Agriculture, Judiciary and Small Business committees, King has attempted to make the case he is still an effective representative for the district. He has released a series of photos showing him meeting with 4th District residents and advocacy groups in his congressional office. 

Last month, he also held the first of 39 town hall meetings this year in each county in the district. His second town hall is scheduled for noon Monday in Rock Rapids at the Forster Community Center, 404 Main St.

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