Steve King: 'Would there be any population of the world left' if not for rape and incest?

Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingHouse passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers Juan Williams: Stephen Miller must be fired Why the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MORE (R-Iowa) on Wednesday questioned whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for rape and incest throughout history, The Des Moines Register reported.

King was speaking in Urbandale, Iowa, where he defended anti-abortion legislation he sponsored in Congress that did not have exceptions for rape or incest.

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"What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" King told the crowd at the Westside Conservative Club. “Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can't say that I was not a part of a product of that."

The Catholic lawmaker argued that the circumstances of a baby’s conception does not negate their right to life.

"It's not the baby's fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother," he said.

The nine-term congressman has a history of making controversial comments.

King sparked bipartisan backlash in January for questioning during an interview with The New York Times how terms such as "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" became "offensive."

The comments were quickly denounced and House Republicans responded by removing King from his positions on the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees.

The House also overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning white nationalism and white supremacy by a 424-1 vote. The embattled lawmaker voted in favor of the resolution. 

The lawmaker denounced white supremacist ideologies at the time and reiterated his stance on Wednesday. He also told the crowd that he supports his defense of the West, calling the United States "the flagship for Western civilization."

King claimed that political insiders told him that the controversy surrounding his comments was part of a plot to remove him from office, the Register reported.

"People think it was an organic media feeding frenzy, but no, it was orchestrated from the beginning," he said. "They had told me, heads up before Christmas, they're going to try to drive you out of office and get you to resign. Within 24 hours, you had people saying 'resign, resign, resign.' Why? Because The New York Times misquoted me?"

Democrat J.D. Scholten, who is again challenging King, said in a statement on Wednesday that the incumbent is putting “his selfish, hateful ideology above the needs of the people of Iowa’s 4th district.”

“Excusing violence — in any way — is entirely unacceptable. Here in Iowa, we stand strong together in the face of violence, and strive to create a welcoming and safe community for all people,” Scholten said. “His comments are disrespectful to survivors and don’t reflect Iowan values.”

Republican Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra, who is also running to unseat King, said in a statement that while he is “100% pro-life,” King’s “bizarre comments and behavior diminish our message and damage our cause."

“We can't afford to hand the 4th District to Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives Trump: Pelosi's teeth were 'falling out of her mouth' during press conference Schiff: I 'hope to hell' I would have voted to impeach Obama if he had committed same actions as Trump MORE and her allies in Congress,” he added. “President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE needs defenders in Congress, not distractions.”

Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Booker cancels NH activities, campaign says he has the flu MORE (N.J.) both called on King to resign after his latest remarks were reported. 

"Every Iowa leader, regardless of party, should condemn Representative King’s comments, an exercise they should all be familiar with by now, and join us in asking for his resignation," Booker's campaign said in a statement.

—This report was updated at 3:16 p.m.