Ted Cruz appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday, where he had to face questions about his long-time political ally, Iowa congressman Steve King. You can watch the clip above, or here.
Steve King has been in the headlines ever since the New York Times published a story about him earlier this week. In an interview with the Times, King — who has often come under fire for his comments about immigration — questioned why “white nationalism” has turned into a negative expression. (King later apologized for the comments; you can read his apology in the updated version of the Times story.)
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
On Sunday, Cruz denounced King’s comments, but evaded questions about whether he was planning to distance himself from King. Cruz said, ” What Steve King said was stupid. It was stupid, it was hurtful, it was wrong. And he needs to stop it.” Cruz added, “I think we all of us ought to be united, regardless of party, and say that white supremacism, white nationalism, is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong. And I think we need that clarity.”
Cruz was then asked, “Are you going to support him [Ted Cruz] in the future?
He replied, “You know, what I’m going to do is urge everyone to stand for principles that matter.” Cruz then changed the subject to discuss local politics in Texas, stressing that he had defended a local official “who happened to be Muslim” against some people who wanted to remove him. He did not answer the question about whether he would continue to support Steve King.
Cruz is a long-time friend of King’s. The two men are hunting buddies and have been close political allies over the years. In 2016, Cruz tapped King to act as the national co-chair for his presidential campaign. At the time, Cruz described King as “one man that stands out as the courageous conservative whom I believe can restore the soul of America.” But even in 2016, King had repeatedly come under fire for his controversial comments about immigrants. King made headlines in 2013 for asserting that the vast majority of immigrants are drug smugglers. “Some of them are valedictorians, and their parents brought them in,” King said in an interview with Newsmax. “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”