Rep. Steve King: GOP colleagues 'patting me on the back' after controversy

Rep. Steve King: GOP colleagues 'patting me on the back' after controversy
© Greg Nash

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says he hasn’t been getting much pushback from fellow House Republicans about his controversial tweet over the weekend saying that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies."

King claimed in an interview with The Hill just off the House floor on Thursday afternoon that, if anything, colleagues have given him words of encouragement since returning to the Capitol.

“My colleagues have generally been coming by and patting me on the back. And a surprising number have said that they pray for me. And, meaning they support me and they agree with me, a surprising number,” King said.

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“I don’t often have members come up and say at the end of the day, 'I prayed for you this morning.' So they must think I’ve got a lot of arrows in my back.”

King created a firestorm Sunday when he tweeted in support of anti-Muslim nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, writing that he "understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

A handful of GOP lawmakers condemned King’s comment, including Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Cuban Americans, and Michigan Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashGOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan House votes to fast-track ObamaCare repeal Trump delivers ultimatum to GOP on ObamaCare repeal MORE, whose parents are Syrian and Palestinian immigrants.

Asked specifically if any of those lawmakers had approached him in person to clarify his remark, King said they hadn’t.

“They have not approached me. But I would say of my Republican critics, you should take a look on their position on immigration and see where they stand. There seems to be a curious coincidence,” he responded.

But Curbelo contradicted that part of King’s account, telling The Hill he had confronted King about it when they ran into each other at a Wednesday night GOP conference meeting.

Curbelo had tweeted in response to King, “What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as 'somebody else's baby?' #concernedGOPcolleague.”

When told that King had said colleagues were “patting [him] on the back,” Curbelo rolled his eyes.

“I saw him down at conference, and I said, ‘Hey, I just want to know if I’m somebody else’s baby.’ He said, ‘You should have called me.’ I said, ‘I don’t have your number.’ So he sent me his number and we agreed we’d talk whenever we both have time to sit down and talk about it,” Curbelo said.

Amash, meanwhile, said he hadn’t confronted King about the controversy in person since tweeting in response, “Am I ‘somebody else’s’ baby because my parents are immigrants?”

“Steve makes remarks like that all the time,” Amash said Thursday.

King continued to stand by his comment and insisted critics were distorting what he said.

“Any rational person would know that if I’m sending a tweet out for a candidate for prime minister of the Netherlands, and I say ‘our civilization,’ they would have to know that I’m not talking about race in America. I’m talking about the civilization we share,” King said.

Wilders fell short of expectations in his country’s elections on Wednesday, although his party did gain seats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) have called on House GOP leaders to remove King as chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanScarborough teases Trump: We told you 'don't start with health care' Dem rep: Ryan must decide whether Nunes can credibly lead Russia probe THE MEMO: Recriminations fly with Trump’s health vote in peril MORE’s (R-Wis.) office dismissed the suggestion earlier this week.

“I disagree with that statement,” Ryan said of King's tweet during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier on Monday night.

"We’re a melting pot," Ryan added.