Iowa's King of Controversy - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowa's King of Controversy

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by Phil Prazan

pprazan@myabc5.com

@PhilPrazan

It was last week that Iowa's Republican Congressman Steve King compared immigrants hoping to gain U.S. legal status under the Dream Act with drug runners, saying there's more of the latter.

"For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," said Rep. King in an interview.
 
The comments have drawn scorn even from members within his own party; House Speaker John Boehner called the comments "hateful" and "ignorant."

Congress is trying to get an immigration deal done.  Speaker Boehner's statement hints that King's comments will make that deal much harder and possibly tarnish the Republican image.

"I said what I said cause it's the truth," said Rep. King as he arrived at the first annual Eisenhower Picnic, organized by the Boone County Republicans Friday evening.  He said he stands by his comments based on experience with border patrol agents.
 
"The description that I gave comes from them.  It's accurate," says Rep. King.

He says only the end results from an immigration bill will tell if his comments were inappropriate.

"If that policy is returning the rule of law, then it was the right thing.  If it's not a policy that returns the rule of law, then perhaps it was the wrong thing.  But I can't tell you today," says Rep. King.

Iowa's Governor even disagrees with the word choice.
 
"Congressman King is a very strong and effective Congressman.  I just don't happen to agree on the wording of this particular statement," says Gov. Terry Branstad.

Representative King's solid red district includes Boone.  Long time politicos say his criticism won't make any impact here.

"Most of the people here in Northwest Iowa don't care what the New York Times and the liberal eastern media has to say," says Gov. Branstad.

But that doesn't mean there's no work to be done.  Boone GOP Co-Chair Gary Nystrom says a great thing about events like this picnic is how they can iron out their differences and create a stronger party.
 
"I think the major goal is they need unity.  They have to pull together and we've seen that at the last election.  There were some splits and that can't happen to be successful," says Nystrom.
 

In that last election, Republicans lost the majority of Latino voters.Many say King's words will make that gap worse but he challenged any Republican to disagree with him on the facts.

That debate will be played out in Washington with much more to come on immigration.

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