The Republicans Have a Steve King Problem

The congressman's remarks were a head-slapper for a party that has sought this year to mend its frayed relationship with Latinos.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The House of Representatives had wrapped up its work Thursday afternoon, its members already fleeing for the long weekend, when a Republican nightmare began to unfold. Steve King, a Tea Party firebrand from northwest Iowa, arrived on the floor of the nearly empty House chamber to extend an argument that threatens the party’s critical push to court Hispanic voters.

Earlier this week, the conservative website Newsmax released an interview in which King, a voluble opponent of illegal immigration, said immigrant children were widely used as drug mules. “For everyone who’s a valedictorian,” King argued, “there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

(MORE: Does the GOP Really Want to Woo Blacks and Latinos?)

The remarks were a head-slapper for a party that has sought this year to mend its frayed relationship with Latinos. Republican Congressmen pooled their money to rent a bus and throw King under it. The Speaker of the House denounced him. The Majority Leader called his statements “inexcusable.” But the embattled Iowan wasn’t willing to go quietly. Feeling victimized by what he believes to be a capital in the grips of political correctness, he uncorked a defiant speech:

“We must not sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of political expediency,” he argued. He railed against Washington “demagogues” and accused critics of exploiting emotion and ignoring the facts. “I challenge this civilization to be reasonable. Have reason. Be analytical. Be a critical thinker,” he said. The campaign to silence King has only made him shout louder.

King’s naked stereotyping is exactly the kind of kerfuffle the GOP has managed to avoid throughout the contentious immigration debate this year. As that debate has proven, Republican lawmakers remain divided over the merits of rewriting U.S. law to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be living here. But they have taken as gospel the need to change their tone toward the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group. “If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” wrote the authors of an RNC-commissioned report released this spring. Even ardent opponents of comprehensive immigration reform have been careful to couch that opposition in respectful terms.

(MORE: With More Deadlock Ahead, Obama Condemns Republicans In Economic Speech)

King’s remarks detonated those efforts, reaffirming the perception that Republicans are hostile to Latinos. Undocumented immigrants showed up at his office clutching cantaloupes. Irritated Republicans blamed the media for harping on a solitary member who has long roamed the fringes of the party. It’s true that King is not exactly a mainstream Republican. Among his crusades, he has opposed anti-dogfighting laws, likened House janitors swapping out incandescent light bulbs to Stasi troops, and suggested Barack Obama’s birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers could have been placed by telegram from Kenya.

But if the measure is votes and not words, King is more representative of the House Republican immigration position than the party would like to admit. Just last month, 97% of Republicans backed a King amendment that prohibits funding from an Obama administration directive to stop deporting so-called DREAMers. The position rekindled memories of the “self-deportation” policy that earned Mitt Romney just 27% of Hispanic votes.

This is a real problem for Republicans, and not just the House lawmakers who are trying to scuttle reform in the gentlest way possible. Democrats will try to make King a GOP anchor, much like they used Todd Akin to paint the party as hostile to women. Already operatives are pointing to the comment of Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor, that King was one of his “very favorite Congressmen.” Republicans can call King’s comments “hateful” and “ignorant,” as Speaker John Boehner did Thursday. But they can’t shut him up, and they may not be able to erase the perception that he speaks for the rest of the party as well.

MORE: GOP Claims High Ground in 2014 Battle for the Senate

232 comments
keverich1
keverich1

Steve King is Ok. Republicans have Peter King problem. That fat RINO pig from New York, who agrees with Obama on everything.

MidwestFarmersDaughter
MidwestFarmersDaughter

My husband and I are proud to have Steve King as our representative!! Thank you, Steve, for speaking truth!!  Republicans are NOT "hostile to Latinos"--just ILLEGAL ANYBODY, LAWBREAKERS!!!  On reading this, I am going right to Steve King's website to send him a generous contribution!!

krw1943
krw1943

Both sides have knuckle-draggers in abundance, and, yes, King and Boehner (too) are poster boys for disingenuousness and vacuity on the right. However, the abundance of whacko ideologues on the left would take several thousand pages to make a few points about how dangerous and criminal they have become. Suffice it to say, all three branches of government are broken. I wonder when citizens will get the U.S. government back again? You know, the one which used to care about honest-to-goodness American citizens?

mario
mario

yo no se como serà en americà però en españa i no solo los socialistes fuman marihuana sinó que tambien la derecha más conservadora. estos fumant crack i se toman la pastillitas del abuelo. bien eso de associar la delicuencia organitzada con la immigracia es un tema tan barbaro que yo no se como hablarles como un sir, si es como si bush se tomase sus LSD que les manda el abuelo, es decir los calmantes vitaminados....

PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

“We must not sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of political expediency."

You mean like the PATRIOT Act? 

jmac
jmac

Steve King says that his colleagues support him (behind closed doors).   He says he's constantly being approached by supporters - like the supporters making their voices heard on this blog.

Again, the problem isn't Steve King.   The problem is the GOP base.  Republicans can't find a way to support business and cheap labor and their base.   If their base would just figure out that the GOP doesn't support them (the base) that they just support cheap slave labor any way and any country they can get it from,  the GOP wouldn't have a problem.  No one would vote for them. Problem solved.   

roknsteve
roknsteve

It's the brain drain.  All the Gee-O-Pee's brain's are draining.  Didja get any Onya?  

dawnkucera
dawnkucera

The REAL problem is that King doesn't see anything wrong with his remarks.   That kind of tone-deafness is what cost Akin and Murdoch their elections while alienating vast numbers of women, and it is going to cost the GOP the Latino vote for a generation.   

I have the feeling that many who are denouncing him might actually agree with the sentiment, but at least realize how politically disastrous it is to voice it. 

LutzBarz
LutzBarz

legalise all drugs. no worries. everybody's happy

bloggergonewild
bloggergonewild

Steve King tells the truth.  Truth to a liberal democrat is like sunlight to a vampire.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

GREAT JOB, TIME for employing a blatant double standard in your political coverage.

Republican Steve King (and, by your dimwitted logic, the entire Republican Party) gets dragged over hot coals, while Democratic major Filner of San Diego 'gets a pass' for allegedly groping several women.

TIME, your blatantly pro-liberal coverage is sickening to me as a reader.

You have zero capability of giving that same hard coverage to philandering Democratic politicians.

You have no balls, no spine, and no shame.

You deserve to continue losing readers.

You deserve to continue losing revenues.

You deserve to continue sliding down the slope towards complete irrelevancy.

Paulpot
Paulpot

Shouldn't we be talking about why these people are so desperate to cross the border. 

What they are running away from is desperate poverty, corruption and violence. 
And the main force destabilizing Mexico is the drug war. 
Just end the drug war and we will go a long way towards reducing the immigration problem.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Does the Gee-O-Pee have a secret Loudmouth Fool of the Week program?  They sure are racking up the penalty points for 2014.   

KatyPerez
KatyPerez

Latinos know very well the GOP, very deep inside and even outside, hates, despises and looks down on all of them. Their failed policies, against latinos, minorities, poor and middle class Americans, are still there. They are just "changing their tone" to win more latino votes. But they fool nobody. The GOP always puts party before country. Since the 60s when Nixon came up with the "Southern strategy" the GOP has been using race and prejudice to divide Americans. Their goal has always been to pit one group against another based on racial grounds. They have always exploited the fear and hatred in some people who always want to blame others for their failures and shortcomings. The GOP has been a negative force for decades. Them, their  failed policies, their lack of ideas and solutions translated into endless obstruction and paralysis of the government are the ones to blame for the state of the country. These people are not interested in solving problems or governing  they just want to make President Obama and the dems look bad so disappointed American electorate vote for the GOP. The GOPers just care about themselves and their millionaire$ handler$ !!!

ScottMollett
ScottMollett

The party that openly courts white voters will win. The owners of the media hate white people and they are pretending that the Hispanic vote is more important than the white vote. In the last election whites were 78% of the voters and Hispanics were 8%. If the Republicans do not soon come out openly as the party for white people they will be replaced by one that does.  White people do not want to become a minority in the nation our ancestors built. Claiming there is something wrong with this feeling is anti white racism. White people deserve to be in charge of their own destiny. No one has a right to give our children's future away. Non white people fundamentally do not like white people. It is a terrible idea to give them our country. Borders were established along ethnic lines for a reason. Nothing has changed and pretending it has is dangerous. All of the evidence clearly shows that multiculturalism is dangerous for white people. Non white on white crime is through the roof in every white nation that has opened its borders. It is super high in the USA but the media refuses to tell us about it because the bankers who are ruining the USA owns the media.

 Forcing us to become minorities so a tiny segment of the population will feel comfortable is criminal. In places where the immigrants are the majority the American way of life is fading fast. We are turning 3rd world and that is just what the central banker media crime syndicate wants because they know that the citizens of 3rd world nations allow the massive corruptions these central bankers bring to the table.


Steve King is correct. Close the borders to all immigrants and send all non citizens home.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"...they can’t shut him up, and they may not be able to erase the perception that he speaks for the rest of the party as well."


I'd like to personally thank the commenters below who came out to prove that it's far more than only perception.

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

WHAT IS WRONG TO SAY THAT CHILDREN ARE USED AS DRUG MULES......TIME MAGAZINE.....THIS SYCOPHANTIC JACKANAPE AND LACKEY OF THE DEMOCRATS SAYING THAT THIS IS WRONG.....

IDIOTS.......THIS IDEA IS TOO OLD TO EVEN MENTION.........IF YOU ARE TRULY THE NEWS.....YOU MONKEYS WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THE GANGS IN AMERICA FROM NEW YORK, TO OAKLAND, TO LA, TO CHICAGO, AND EVERYWHERE......USE CHILDRED......WHY......BECAUSE THEY ARE MINORS.....AND NO JAIL TIME....MANY MANY YEARS AGO AND TODAY.....

NEWS CAN BE TWISTED.......ENOUGH OF THESE LATINO CRAPS.

VALENTINE, WORLD HISTORIAN, COMEDIAN, LOL......

sapwolf
sapwolf

Hey, King is under pressure due to the murder of 93-year old Council Bluffs woman by a 19-year old illegal immigrant.  People in West Iowa don't like illegals coming to the USA and murdering our citizens.  He is getting a tremendous pressure from voters there to stand up against illegals who are criminals causing problems in Iowa.  CB is in District 3 but people who live just north are in a huge uproar over this.  It is understandable that the area's congressman addresses this issue.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@keverich1 Wow. Shocking. I hope someone is paying you to say such things. It would be a pity if you really are this ignorant.

ZacPetit
ZacPetit

@MidwestFarmersDaughter Speaking the truth? How do you discern whether he is speaking the truth? Do you have verifiable data that concludes that "there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert?" I think not. No, you shamelessly agree with his racist remarks because you're either paid to do so or are truly ignorant. 

mudguy1943
mudguy1943

@dawnkucera No the real problem is King is right and the Liberals and Rinos like Boehner don't like the truth. 

dawnkucera
dawnkucera

@mrbomb13 Who the heck is giving Filner a pass?  Everyone from across the spectrum is calling for his resignation.   

small_axe
small_axe

@mrbomb13 Intellectually dishonest from start to finish. Filner's mischief has nothing to do with policy, and he is being driven out of the party by democrats. King's has everything to do with policy, and is being shielded by his party. Not to mention, warmly embraced by the GOP base.

mudguy1943
mudguy1943

@KatyPerez Spoken from a true uninformed liberal. If what was said is true why in California this week in a special election for the state  in a district of 80% Latinos and Democrats did Latino Republican win.

MichelleDiane
MichelleDiane

@ScottMollettROFLOL The party that openly courts white voter will be laughed off the political stage. First, as you said yourself the media would make a complete mockery of the attempt. Second, though I sympathize with the panic you obviously feel, the era of white privilege in America is coming to its inevitable end. There is neither enough racism nor fear to stop the redistribution of power.

By the end of the decade, white people in America will be outnumbered by people of color. An issue, which is complicated by the fact that  white women outnumber and increasingly out earn white men. That could be a boon to your idea except in for the fact that in its hate fueled frenzy the right has indirectly (by decimating education) and directly (increasingly restrictive abortion laws) attacked women. Never mind the millions of white LGBT Americans. And we won't even discuss the number of white people who are procreating with people of color. The white only party is hopeless split. I'm surprised you didn't figure that out all by yourself. I mean you pointed out the low voter ratio of people of color compared to white people; therefore is should be quite obvious to you that it is white people who have and are dividing this nation to the point that the 3rd world collapse of which you speak is a very real possibility.

FYI The whole concept of "white people" is one that sprung up post WWI; until then Anglo Saxons hated the Irish, Italian and Eastern European with the same deranged passion some white people now heap on people of color.

small_axe
small_axe

@ScottMollett You took the continent by force, and will lose it by force if necessary. Better to do us all a favor and just drop dead.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@ScottMollett"We are turning 3rd world and that is just what the central banker media crime syndicate wants because they know that the citizens of 3rd world nations allow the massive corruptions these central bankers bring to the table."

That's hilarious. Ronald Reagan, Phil Graham, Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, etc.: "citizens of 3rd world nations." Guess that means us.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

@ScottMollett Native Americans could say the same about you and your ancestors.  Let's send YOU home, you immigrant.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@dawnkucera @mrbomb13 

TIME, CNN, The New York Times, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Mother Jones, NBC, ABC, CBS. 

So, not quite 'everyone' just yet.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@small_axe @mrbomb13 

Excuse me, but it's that very (Republican) 'policy' you mention that is ensuring that immigration standards are enforced across this country for all.  Otherwise, it's not fair to those who enter the country legally, and obtain citizenship through legal channels.  Disagree?

Second, if Filner is being 'driven out of the party,' then why is he still holding power?  Why does he feel zero pressure to resign?  Oh yeah - because (as said before) the media is giving him a slap on the wrist. 

roknsteve
roknsteve

@evil.aaronm @ScottMollett Notice how white people talk like they own everything.  The same thing that happened to Native Americans is happening to them and they are so dense they can't see it and don't get it.  They don't have any center and are empty inside.  

AnthonyMcMillan
AnthonyMcMillan

I agree that both political parties are almost equally worthless when it comes to protecting the average American citizen. The right should walk around with Nascar like slogans on their suits, so we would know who paid them off for their vote that week. The left are largely ineffective and seem more content with doing nothing then actually running the govt. And the right don't even bother to act like they are interested in running the govt., they have effectively shut down the govt. for going on 7 years now. Saying no to everything isn't governance, its cowardice.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@Robbert5 @mrbomb13 @dawnkucera 

I would invite you to visit each of the outlets which I mentioned, and re-check what you just stated.

Also, it is not a false equivalency to say that Republican candidates receive far more negative coverage in the media (besides Fox) than Democratic ones (besides the 'sex sells' ones like Weiner and Spitzer).

Robbert5
Robbert5

@mrbomb13 @dawnkucera Every single news outlet you mention have spent more time reporting on Fillner than on King.  Sex sells as this charade proves once again.  

Bringing Fillner into this debate is nothing more than a smokescreen trying to create a false equivalency.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

@MichelleDiane @mrbomb13 @small_axe 

First, thanks for your reply.  Just a couple of comments:

1) I have not forgotten that my family consisted of immigrants too.  However, it matters very much that all of them became citizens through legal channels, as they wanted to get off on the right foot.

2) Whether they came here 'legally' is not a mere point of view.  Their entrance and naturalization can be traced and documented.  An illegal immigrant cannot be documented, and therefore can avoid the responsibilities of legal citizenship.

3) Your references to the removal of the Indians is irrelevant and immaterial to this conversation.  That land is now U.S. territory, and we therefore have the right to remove anyone who does not follow our laws.  It doesn't matter whether that land was stolen, etc.  What matters is the status quo now.

4) The reason why the middle class is so decimated is the exodus of blue-collar jobs to places like Mexico, South America, and Asia.  Globalization has had that kind of effect for (at least) two decades.  To compound the problem, illegal immigrants are entering, and taking the summer jobs/hotel/restaurant/etc. jobs that teenagers and younger citizens used to occupy.  So, you can't support/condone illegal immigration, and complain about middle class decimation.  You can't have your cake, and eat it too.

MichelleDiane
MichelleDiane

@mrbomb13 @small_axe Perhaps in the heat of insanity you've forgotten that a few generations back your family were immigrants too. Whether that immigration was legal or not is a matter of point of view; the invaded, colonized, "Christianized", kidnapped and murdered most likely take issue with the Republican definition of legality.

Second, it may be prudent, though uncomfortable, to remember that the people flowing into to California and Texas et al. from south of the border are in many cases the descendents of the people from whom the very land they now flock to was stolen. Yes stolen by folks with a perverse definition of legitimacy who honored not a single treaty with the indigenous peoples they (you) now vilify as outsiders.

Are you really too blind to see the middle class being systematically decimated? Do you not realize that the hate you regurgitate and the ignorance, fear and vitriol if fuels are the smoke screens that allow the rich to get richer while the simple "givens" like owning a home, sending your kids to college etc. are more and more difficult to get. You might want to take a step back and explore the truth of the great American past. Pay close attention to the late 19th and early 20th century; history is repeating itself. Bread lines were and will be indiscriminate; if reactionaries on both sides don't wake up and pay attention, they may very well find themselves depending on the soup kitchens their ignorance and acrimony built.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@AnthonyMcMillan So if I'm half Native American and half white should I hate my other half?  In 50 years all you charming creatures will be dead and peace will follow.    

AnthonyMcMillan
AnthonyMcMillan

You sound just as racist as the idiot who is mentioned in the above article.