Story County GOP to Host Event on Respect and Civility in Politics… with Steve King As Featured Guest

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It reads like a bad Andy Borowitz joke, but the Ames Tribune has its facts straight: On the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 18, the Story County GOP is hosting its annual Wendy Jensen Memorial Chili Supper at Gatherings in Nevada, billing Congressman Steve King as a featured guest. This year’s theme? “Show Some Respect: Bringing Civility to Political Discourse.”

Maybe local Republicans plan to stage an intervention for King, who in recent years has celebrated the death of an al Qaeda terrorist by saying the 72 virgins he’d meet in heaven would probably all look like then-85-year-old journalist Helen Thomas, compared immigrants to livestock and dogs (and cantaloupe-calved drug smugglers), compared gay people to lawnmowers, argued putting a black woman on the $20 bill would be “racist” and “sexist,” tried to ban transgender people from using congressional restrooms, suggested white Europeans contributed more to civilization than any other “subgroup,” said NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was “sympathetic to ISIS,” and palled around with incendiary far-right European nationalists. (And that’s far from a comprehensive list.)

Before the first presidential debate last month, King shared this courteous analysis:

“We are looking forward to a new and unique focus with this dinner,” Story County GOP Chairman Brett Barker told the Trib. “Wendy [a former Republican volunteer] was an incredible lady, and we will be honoring her legacy by discussing how we can bring civility back to our discourse in this toxic political climate.”

The chili supper follows another annual event held last month by the county party called the Judge Joseph Story Dinner, which King headlined, repeating his belief that Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama, and where prominent Republicans embraced Donald Trump, a candidate they continue to back even after revelations that the GOP presidential nominee once bragged about sexually assaulting women by saying, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The Informer has reached out to the Story County GOP about the event’s curious theme and will update this post if we hear back.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.