Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa stepped out of the House chamber where the State of the Union address was about to take place Tuesday, electing to pray in the members' chapel during the speech due to President Barack Obama's stance on abortion.
"When the president announced that he would have an empty seat up by the First Lady for those who are victims of gun violence, who no longer have a voice, and I thought of the millions and millions of unborn babies — on his first day in office he issued an executive order that accelerated abortions worldwide," King told TheBlaze moments after stepping out of the House of Representatives chamber.
The lawmaker followed through on his promise from earlier in the day, adding that he took the "last chance" to leave the chamber just a few minutes before the president spoke. King said he made the decision to leave the State of the Union when he got back to Washington on Monday after hearing about the president's plan to leave a chair empty for gun violence victims. He had already planned to leave his gallery seat empty in honor of abortion victims.
"I got into town last night and I just decided, I can't do this again," he said.
Obama's grief for victims of shootings is fair, but it isn't enough, King added.
"He did shed tears for the victims of Sandy Hook, and I think that's appropriate," he said. "But as far as we know, he's never shed a tear for the millions of unborn babies that have been aborted since he took office. So I left my gallery seat empty, and my seat in the House chambers empty in commemoration of those who've never had a voice, not those who no longer have a voice, but those unborn babies who have never had a voice — and I'm going to the members' chapel, where I'm going to spend my time there praying for the unborn, praying for the restoration of the Constitution and that God will raise up a leader whom he will use to restore the soul of America."
King has been stumping for Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa, as the Texas Republican has been criss-crossing the state building support ahead of the Feb. 1 caucuses there. Cruz also chose not to attend Tuesday's State of the Union speech, but the two didn't have any sort of coordinated plan to do so, King said.
"We have a certain affinity for tracking parallel though processes," he said. "But I haven't talked to him about this, this is my position, my conviction."
King said he didn't try to recruit anyone else to leave the speech with him, but he said he would be happy to pray with anyone else who went into the chapel during Obama's address.