“Liberals Are Unhinged” Gov Bemoans Lack of Civil Discourse, Makes Steve King Campaign Co-Chair


In a move that looks like it came straight out of the Story County GOP’s playbook, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds complained about the “vitriol” in our “vicious” political climate on Tuesday and then a day later announced Congressman Steve King as one of the co-chairs of her 2018 re-election campaign.

Reynolds’ remark, during an Ames press conference, came in response to a reporter’s question about her recent claim that Iowa “liberals are unhinged and they are out for us.” In a dubious backtrack, Reynolds said she was “the governor of everybody” and that she had been referring not to liberals but “a very small, minute population” of Iowans.

“There is no civil discourse left and it is really sad,” said Reynolds, who before dissing liberals as “unhinged” was a staunch supporter of Donald Trump’s crass campaign for president, even in the wake of the news about his “grab them by the pussy” comment.

Reynolds continued: “We ought to be able to talk about ideas. We ought to be able to debate ideas because that’s how you get to consensus and that’s how we move this country forward and that’s how we move this state forward. And we do a better job of it in Iowa. We do, but it is just so vitriol [sic] and vicious right now. I hope we can get back to having a discussion.”

Backtracking further, she claimed her “unhinged” comment was a response to social media hate directed at a photo of her grandchildren, a “six-year-old little boy and his brother, playing soccer on a football field.” One message, she said, was “something to the effect that, you know, I hope they’re drinking the water and they have detrimental outcomes, and I’m being really, very nice in how I’m describing what some of those posts were.” (Meanwhile, the Medicaid privatization by Reynolds’ protege is increasingly putting children at risk in Iowa, and in Congress her party recently neglected to reauthorize funding for the federal CHIP health insurance program, which covers more than 60,000 children in Iowa, and has yet to do anything to ensure its enrollees will continue to be covered once funds dry out next spring.)

Today, the day after her newsmaking appeal to civility, Reynolds announced that Steve King would serve among her re-election campaign’s co-chairs, saying in a statement that she was “humbled by the endorsement” and praising King as a “strong defender of freedom and our conservative values.”

As the Informer has previously noted, King’s relationship to civil discourse is tenuous at best. His recent comment about being unable to “restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” won him praise from former Klansman David Duke, and many of King’s views and rhetoric beyond that mirror those of white nationalists.

King has also mocked the looks of the late journalist Helen Thomas, compared immigrants to livestock and dogs, suggested that gay people would start wedding lawnmowers after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, said it would be “racist” and “sexist” to replace slaveholder Andrew Jackson with black abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, claimed white Europeans have contributed more to Western culture than any other “subgroup,” said Colin Kaepernick’s NFL protests against police brutality showed he was “sympathetic to ISIS,” and asked whether Hillary Clinton would be “on her meds or off her meds” during a presidential debate with Trump — among countless other remarks throughout his political career.

Gavin Aronsen
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.