House GOP leader vows action on Iowa lawmaker's remarks about white supremacy

Iowa Republican Steve King was quoted as saying, ‘‘White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?’’

The House Republican leader said Sunday that he’ll meet with Representative Steve King this week to discuss King’s future in the party and promised action following the Iowa congressman’s comments in defense of white supremacy.

‘‘That language has no place in America. That is not the America I know, and it’s most definitely not the party of Lincoln,’’ said House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. ‘‘Action will be taken. I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King.’’

King was quoted in The New York Times last week as saying, ‘‘White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?’’ He has insisted he’s an advocate for ‘‘Western civilization,’’ not white supremacy or white nationalism. He said it was a ‘mistake to use phrasing that ‘‘created an unnecessary controversy’’ and denied being racist.

McCarthy, on CBS’s ‘‘Face the Nation,’’ told host Margaret Brennan after the cameras were turned off that he is reviewing whether King, now serving his ninth term, should keep his committee assignments, according to CBS’s transcript of the broadcast.

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King serves on the Agriculture, Small Business, and Judiciary committees, and chairs Judiciary’s subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

Associated Press

How long can O’Rourke wait as 2020 pace picks up?

You won’t see Beto O’Rourke announce whether he’s running for president in 2020 for a while. But you may see him do almost anything else in the meantime.

‘‘So, I’m here at the dentist,’’ the former Democratic congressman said with a giggle during a teeth-cleaning seen live on Instagram last week, before quizzing the dental hygienist about life along the US-Mexico border.

Voters can catch O’Rourke on more traditional airwaves next month in New York, when Oprah Winfrey interviews him.

He barged into last year’s Senate race almost laughably early, in March 2017, insisting he was a credible contender against the incumbent, Republican Ted Cruz, when almost no one nationally knew of O’Rourke. Now he’s doing almost anything to keep people paying attention to him without formally starting a presidential campaign for 2020. He’s not expected to decide until next month at the earliest whether he’s running.

These days, that counts as playing hard to get. Influential activists in Iowa and elsewhere are clamoring for him to get in the race, while some potential rivals move their timelines earlier. So far, interest in O’Rourke has held after his near upset of Cruz, but for how much longer?

‘‘They’re not going to wait forever,’’ Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, said of Democratic campaign operatives, donors, activists and fellow politicians looking to pick sides or offer endorsements. ‘‘The more candidates who start to formally launch their candidacies, the greater the pressure will rise on Beto.’’

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced on New Year’s Eve that she’d formed a presidential exploratory committee, hoping to get an early jump on people such as O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Senators Corey Booker of New Jersey, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Kamala Harris of California.

Julian Castro, housing chief under President Barack Obama, kicked off his campaign Saturday and could appeal to the same Hispanic community that O’Rourke may count on as a bilingual native of the border city of El Paso.

Associated Press

Trump says ‘weak’ Biden came off the ‘trash heap’

President Trump called former Vice President Joe Biden a ‘‘weak’’ man when asked Saturday night about a growing list of Democrats seeking to topple him in 2020.

Trump, who prizes strength, attacks his enemies as weak, and has often resorted to name calling, resurrected previous insults against Biden as the former US senator from Delaware mulls his third presidential bid. He mocked Biden’s two unsuccessful attempts for the White House and said former President Obama ‘‘took him off the trash heap’’ when he tapped Biden to be his vice president.

‘‘He’s weak. So we’ll see what happens with him . . . Whoever it is, I think we’re going to do just fine,’’ Trump told Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro.

Biden’s spokesman declined to comment.

Trump made similar comments about Biden during an interview with CBS News in July, when he said that running against the former vice president would be a ‘‘dream.’’

Biden, 76, unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008.

Biden has previously taken a stab at Trump.

During a December interview with author and television personality Bruce Feiler, Biden acknowledged his reputation as a ‘‘gaffe machine’’ — a ‘‘wonderful’’ quality ‘‘compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth.’’

Washington Post

Julián Castro says Trump has created a tragedy at border

2020 presidential contender Julián Castro said Sunday that President Trump has created a ‘‘tragedy at the border’’ with immigration policies that have separated children from their families.

Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and Obama administration housing secretary, promised to overhaul immigration laws when he announced his candidacy on Saturday. On Sunday, he slammed Trump for ‘‘playing games’’ with people’s right to seek asylum and said the nation needs to get serious about recognizing this right.

‘‘I don’t believe that we should have family detention for people that are seeking asylum or refugee status solely,’’ Castro said on CBS News’s ‘‘Face the Nation.’’ ‘‘We should develop other ways to ensure that people are processed and we’re able to keep track of them in the country.’’

Castro said that as an alternative to deportation, he would ‘‘look at things like ankle monitors’’ to track where individuals are in the United States.

The Obama administration piloted such a program in 2016, but it was ended by the Trump administration, NBC News said.

If elected, Castro would be the country’s first Latino president. He announced his plans to join the field of Democrats running for the party’s 2020 nomination in San Antonio on Saturday. He laid out a platform that included making the first two years of college affordable, expanding Medicare to all Americans, and creating universal prekindergarten.

When pressed on how he would appeal to centrist Democrats with a largely progressive platform, Castro focused on health care.

Washington Post