Congressman Steve King is standing by a tweet that was widely condemned as racist.
“I meant exactly what I said,” King told CNN.
Sunday, King tweeted in support of his fellow anti-immigrant demagogue Geert Wilders (who is seeking to become the next Dutch prime minister), praising him as one who “understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who is the child of Cuban immigrants, was one of a small number of Republicans to immediately respond to King’s latest racist attack, asking in a tweet of his own, “Do I qualify as ‘somebody else’s baby?’”
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) March 13, 2017
But former KKK leader, white supremacist, and former GOP Louisiana gubernatorial nominee David Duke praised the tweet as proof that “sanity reigns supreme” in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District (which King represents).
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) March 12, 2017
King also drew praise from white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.
The 15 Words:
[C]ulture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
— Richard ☝🏻Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) March 12, 2017
Asked by New Day host Chris Cuomo to defend the comments on Monday, King doubled down on his view that “western civilization” must be defended. Pressed on whether he believes “a Muslim American, an Italian American, Jewish American, [are] all equal, all the same thing,” King hesitated.
“They contribute differently to our culture and civilization.” the Iowa Republican responded. “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party issued a mild rebuke of King, while training his ire instead on former Klansman David Duke.
Jeff Kauffman put out a press release on Monday morning, noting his disagreement with King’s comment and quickly trying to change the subject to Duke.
— IowaGOP (@IowaGOP) March 13, 2017
“First of all, I do not agree with Congressman King’s statement. We are a nation of immigrants, and diversity is the strength of any nation and any community,” Kauffman said (though he himself has embraced his party’s hard-line approach to immigration).
“Regarding David Duke, his words and sentiments are absolute garbage. He is not welcome in our wonderful state.”
In other words, Kauffman wants to banish Duke from visiting Iowa based on his tweet agreeing with Steve King’s racist comments. But Kauffman gave no indication that King is less than welcome in the Iowa GOP — which continues to highlight him on its website.
UPDATE: A full day after King’s initial tweet, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), through a spokeswoman, finally responded with a milquetoast statement that he “clearly disagrees” with his Iowa colleague.
Paul Ryan spox responds to Steve King's comments: "The Speaker clearly disagrees…" pic.twitter.com/uh588pgZZX
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 13, 2017
Later Monday, on Fox News, Ryan said he had not spoken with King and defended him saying, “I’d like to think he misspoke and it wasn’t really meant the way it sounds and hopefully he’s clarified that.” Ryan’s remarks came hours after King had made it clear that he had not misspoken at all.
Asked about King’s comment at his daily briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to immediately respond, saying he would “touch base with the president.”