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Weaver thinks King has given her an assist

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JOHNSTON — Kim Weaver is not as well-known or well-funded as previous Democrats who have tried to replace Steve King in Congress.

But Weaver said Friday she thinks King’s own words make him more vulnerable in this election.

Weaver, the Democratic challenger hoping to prevent King from earning an eighth term serving northwest Iowa in the U.S. House, talked about the race Friday during taping of this weekend’s episode of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.

King declined an invitation to appear with Weaver on “Iowa Press,” host Dean Borg said.

In 2012, Weaver worked on the unsuccessful congressional campaign for Christie Vilsack, the former Iowa first lady. Because of her name recognition and fundraising, Vilsack was seen as one of Democrats’ best hope to unseat King in Iowa’s heavily Republican 4th District.

Weaver, who has worked for the state in the Department of Human Services and as a long-term care ombudsman, is not as well known as Vilsack.

But Weaver thinks King’s propensity for making comments — either in public or on social media — that many perceive to be inflammatory will be his undoing.

“I have to say that he has actually given me a bit of a boost,” Weaver said on “Iowa Press.” “The escalation of his racist rhetoric has also started to, people go, ‘Whoa.’ If you watch his Twitter feed, he is actually starting to put out more blatantly racist language. … Unlike a lot of people, I’ve been paying attention, and there’s a pattern to when he puts those things out, and he has increased the number of offensive tweets that he has been doing.”

When asked for a response to Weaver’s assertions and why King declined Iowa Public Television’s invitation, a spokeswoman for the campaign said King was unavailable for comment.

Weaver differs greatly from King on the one issue on which he may be most vocal: immigration. While King calls for strong enforcement of strong immigration laws and supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s calls for mass deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally, Weaver said she supports allowing those immigrants to remain in the country and eventually earn U.S. citizenship.

Weaver said she thinks that politicians have made the immigration issue toxic but that Iowans are willing to discuss immigration policy.

“The people I talk to, Republicans and Democrats, do believe that we need a path to citizenship,” Weaver said. “(Immigrants) are becoming a greater part of our society. They’re our friends. They’re our neighbors. They’re our children’s friends. So people, real people aren’t as polarized as the politicians, and (opponents of immigration reform) are trying to use this, I believe, as a sensationalistic scare tactic (that) the big, bad people are coming to get us, when I don’t think it’s true.”

Weaver also said she opposes the crude oil pipeline being constructed in Iowa, both generally and in the private company’s use of eminent domain.

And she said she supports federal water quality regulations known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule and thinks planting industrial hemp could help the state’s water quality issues.

Weaver said that, as a union member, she does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement President Barack Obama hopes to convince federal legislators to approve. And she said she would not have voted to override Obama’s veto of legislation that will allow families of 9/11 victims to sue foreign governments, in particular Saudi Arabia, over their possible role in harboring terrorists.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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