Although Northwest Iowa’s U.S. Rep. Steve King on Monday stood behind controversial comments on immigration he made on Twitter, Republicans and Democrats alike took umbrage at the remarks they saw as endorsing white supremacy.
The Republican on Sunday posted a tweet praising Geert Wilders, a nationalist, anti-Islam politician vying to become the Netherlands’ prime minister in an election Wednesday.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” King wrote in a post that drew thousands of “likes.”
The tweet brought widespread condemnation from politicians in Iowa and Washington.
“I disagree with what Steve King had to say and certainly don’t want David Duke or his kind to come to Iowa,” said Gov. Terry Branstad, a fellow Republican, who also noted he agrees with King on other issues.
“Steve King is Steve King, we all know that,” Branstad said. “He at times says things that we just don’t agree with and we’ve always been honest about that.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said King’s remark is not “reflective of Iowa or Iowa values.”
Bill Northey, Iowa’s Republican agriculture secretary who endorsed King in his 2016 congressional run, agreed but said King has been a friend to agriculture and renewable fuel.
“I just think there’s a lot of issues where he has been very good for the 4th District and supportive of the 4th District,” Northey said. “There are times that there are disagreements as well.”
Jeff Kaufmann, head of the Republican Party in Iowa, said in a statement he disagreed with King, also calling the United States “a nation of immigrants” and saying that such diversity was its strength.
On Capitol Hill, King drew rebuke from peers.
The leading Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, called on Republican leaders to condemn the comments, saying they “must decide whether white supremacy is welcome in the GOP ranks.”
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the speaker “clearly disagrees’ with King’s comments.
One of King’s colleagues, Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, seemed to take it personally.
“What exactly do you mean?,” he tweeted. “Do I qualify as ‘somebody else’s baby?’
King, an early supporter of Donald Trump in last year’s campaigns, defended his tweet and went further in an interview Monday on CNN. He pointed to Western Europe, where he said low birthrates were harming civilization, culture and values.
“I’d like to see an America that is just so homogeneous that we look a lot the same,” he said. “I think there’s far too much focus on race, especially in the last eight years. I want to see that put behind us.”
Reuters and Rod Boshart of The Gazette’s Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.