Republicans rebuke King for racial remarks

Rep. Steve King (Iowa) came under fire from fellow Republicans on Monday for racially charged remarks that were praised by white supremacists. 

In a tweet on Sunday, King lauded far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a critic of Islam who supports curbing immigration in his country.

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

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Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, told King in a tweet to “get a clue.”

“Diversity is our strength,” she said. “All looking alike is such a waste. A travesty. I wanna be me. All others are taken.”

That sentiment was echoed by Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips Spicer defends Trump's White House correspondents dinner boycott GOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal MORE (R-S.C.), one of only three black senators, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a Cuban-American from South Florida.

“What exactly do you mean?” Curbelo asked in a tweet. “Do I qualify as somebody else’s baby?” 

Democrats joined the pile-on. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), called King’s remarks “vile racism” that have “no place in decent society, much less in the U.S. Congress.” 

“It’s no accident that communities across America have been threatened by emboldened racists,” Hammill said in a statement. “The GOP Leadership must stop accommodating this garbage, and condemn Congressman Steve King’s statements in the strongest and most unequivocal terms. Speaker Ryan and the House Republican Leadership must decide whether white supremacy is welcome in the GOP ranks.”

Asked about King’s remarks, an aide for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) said the lawmaker “clearly disagrees and believes America’s long history of inclusiveness is one of its great strengths.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) added that “being American is about embracing our country’s founding principles of liberty and personal responsibility, not where someone’s ancestors came from.”

“Legal immigration is an integral part of the American dream,” Scalise said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, asked by The Hill for President Trump’s reaction to King’s statements, said he would look into it and provide a response.

King, meanwhile, stood by his remarks.

“I meant exactly what I said,” King said on CNN’s “New Day.”

The eight-term Republican lawmaker said the U.S. and Western European countries “need to get our birth rates up” to avoid being “entirely transformed.”

He tied his argument to illegal immigration, saying that those who come to the country illegally refuse to “assimilate into American culture.”

“I’d like to see an America that’s just so homogenous that we look a lot the same, from that perspective,” King said.

“This is an effort on the left, I think, to break down the American civilization, the American culture, and turn it into something entirely different. I’m a champion for Western civilization and, yes, our English language is a big part of it. It’s a carrier of freedom.”

King’s remarks were praised by white nationalist leaders such as Richard Spencer and featured on racist websites.

“Just in case you were thinking about moving, sanity reigns supreme in Iowa’s 4th congressional district,” tweeted David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

King is among the most strident immigration hard-liners in Congress and has stirred controversy with racially charged remarks in the past.

During the Republican National Convention last summer, King said on MSNBC that Western civilization had contributed more to society than any other group of people.

“I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute more to civilization?” King asked.

When King was asked by MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes whether he was referring to “white people,” he responded that he was talking about “Western civilization itself.”

“It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of Western civilization.”