Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

No Easy Steve King Solution for GOP

Steve King

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How do you solve a problem like Steve King?

“You can’t,” Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said of his fellow House Republican colleague from Iowa. “You don’t.”

But that doesn’t mean House GOP leaders and prominent voices within the chamber’s Republican Conference aren’t trying, now more than ever, to isolate and marginalize once and for all their colleague whose frequent anti-immigrant rhetoric threatens their efforts to make inroads with the burgeoning Latino voting base.

The turning point, perhaps, came Tuesday, when comments King had made a week earlier to the conservative media outlet Newsmax erupted into a firestorm that brought condemnation from the speaker on down.

The gist of his remarks was that not all young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents — the “DREAMers” — should be put on a path to legal status, despite that idea gaining significant traction among House Republicans.

“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, 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,” King said.

By Tuesday night, Speaker John A. Boehner had released a statement calling King “wrong.”

“There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language,” the Ohio Republican added. “Everyone needs to remember that.”

“I strongly disagree with his characterization of the children of immigrants and find the comments inexcusable,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., echoed in a separate statement.

There’s not much more they can do.

The days of threatening to withhold earmarks for key projects in the offending members’ districts are over. Removing mischief-making members from plum committee assignments didn’t work so well at the start of the current session, when the conservative lawmakers whose seats were revoked became, in the words of one GOP aide, “martyrs” to the party base.

There also may be little gained in calling King in for a closed-door meeting to implore him to tone it down — King has been unapologetic over his most recent comments and many more incendiary remarks in the past.

In the meantime, there’s no telling whether leadership’s current shaming tactic will work. King’s press office did not return requests for comment  Wednesday, nor did King himself emerge for a requested interview from the House floor during the early afternoon vote series.

He did, on Tuesday evening, make a Radio Iowa appearance to defend his remarks.

“This is real. We have people that are … drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they’ve been doing for months,” King explained.

What might be most effective is if prominent voices within the House Republican Conference begin to distance themselves from him, volunteering condemnations of King’s comments and emphasizing that he does not speak for the Republican Party at large.

Gowdy, chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, began that crusade late on Tuesday, calling his remarks to Newsmax “reprehensible.”

“From time to time, there are folks here who say and do things we all disagree with, the majority of us disagree with, and that represents a point of view of one individual,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. “Look, Anthony Weiner … his issues don’t represent the point of view of the Democratic Party on women’s issues.”

“[He is] out of touch with the conference,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Idaho, who, like Diaz-Balart, is a leading Republican in immigration overhaul discussions. “He is in the small, small minority, almost singular minority.”

Labrador, however, said it’s the responsibility of the media to help draw out those distinctions between King and other members of the GOP.

Labrador in particular said journalists did the immigration debate a disservice on Tuesday in focusing on King’s inflammatory remarks and not the comments in support of the “DREAMers” articulated by every other Republican on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, which had convened to discuss the topic at length.

And there is at least a chance that King’s incendiary remarks could give leaders a new selling point as they try to whip an immigration bill later this year. The choice for the rank and file will be clear — do they want the party to be known as Steve King’s party or not?

King does have allies still — both in the party’s base, much of which shares his views on immigration — and a smattering in the House.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., had his own perspective about how the media, and Democrats for that matter, demonize conservative lawmakers.

He is no stranger to controversy: He recently recused himself from managing floor debate on a bill he had championed, one that would ban abortions after 20 weeks throughout the United States, after he said that it was “rare” for women to seek abortions for pregnancies that resulted from rape.

“Steve King is a precious friend of mine and I believe in his heart he is as good as gold,” Franks said. “I have no doubt as to his desire to do the best thing for this country and for the cause of human freedom for everyone in the human family.

“We all have a tendency to judge ourselves by our intent of what we say, and others by the letter of what they say,” he continued. “Perhaps we should reverse that to a degree and look to what people mean as opposed to, at least, first trying to look for the intent.”

  • Will

    Someone needs to grow the balls to stand up to this idiocy. Conservatives hurt themselves by not calling out people like King when they do stupid things like this.

    • Jo Jo

      “conservatives” like Boehner?

      You’re so funny.

      • Will

        No, you brought up Boehner. I’m talking about real conservatives, not idiots like King who hurt our whole movement and use elected office as a springboard to money and media attention.

        • Jo Jo

          King is a real Conservative. What “movement” are you talking about? Name some Conservatives.

          • Will

            Paul, Cruz, Walker, Amash, Kasic. King may be conservative on some issues, but hes downright stupid on way more. Conservatives need people who don’t make things up just for attention. His statement had no factual basis and was completely geared towards his own personal advancement.

  • Bob Viering

    The only ones who can effectively manage King are the voters of his district. It’s people like him and Michele Bachman that drove me from the Republican party.

    • Jo Jo

      Another closet Lib.

    • Kathleen3

      We will send you a thank you note for leaving. RINO supporters such as you are the very same we are attempting to purge.

      • Bob Viering

        I look forward to your note. Do you have my address?

        Sadly, if Republicans keep driving off people like me, eventually the party will be but a small, but noisy, minority with little hope of ever gaining control.

        • Jo Jo

          Where are you going to go, the Communist Democrat Party? Half the current GOP right now are former Reagan Democrats that left THEIR party because the radicals took it over. Instead of standing and fighting, they found it easier to pack their office up, run as a “Republican”, and move across the hall. The Conservatives will fight the Establishment until we decide to pull the rug, then as you suggested, they will be left to never win another election. This current Establishment GOP had complete power from 2000 through 2006 and did NOTHING to contract the Federal government. On the contrary, they expanded it gleefully.

          That leaves the question, where are you going to go?

  • Rich Vail

    GOP isn’t making inroad on Latinos…they vote 90% Dem. That’s why legalizing the 11-20 million illegal immigrants is insanity…

    Want to end illegal immigration:
    1. END all federal funding to cities and counties that refuse to enforce current Federal immigration law. (This will eliminate “sanctuary cities)
    2. Enact legislation that will fine business owners $10k per illegal worker employed. Include a reward for tips on such businesses to be funded by the fines imposed for such workers.
    3. Remove the business license for 1 year per illegal worker employed.
    4. Secure the border so that once illegal workers LEAVE they cannot easily get back in.

    By removing the benefits of hiring illegals, and by imposing harsh fines it will remove the reasons for companies to hire illegals. Mr. King isn’t wrong. I personally don’t care where you come from, or where your ancestors came from. I care if you are a citizen or a LEGAL resident who came here legally. 30 years ago, we as a nation, were promised that there would be NO MORE AMNESTIES for illegal immigrants and that the government would do it’s soveriegn duty in securing the souther border…they lied.

    As of today, illegals are flooding north trying to get here before the border is secured because they know that once they are across, they’re home free…if we remove the benefits for hiring illegals, their jobs will dry up and they will, of their own accord, return to their home countries. If we enacted the same laws that Mexico, for example, has, we wouldn’t have the problem we do now.

    • Ben Rampp

      @ Rich Vail: We could build these camps to house illegals in……..send them to the ‘showers’. Sound Familiar?

      • Rich Vail

        If that’s what your political party chooses to do Ben, I suspect that many people much like myself will end up fighting you in a Civil War.

        It’s hyperbole like yours that utterly derails any attempt by reasonable people to open a real discussion of issues. You set up a straw man argument in an attempt to deflect attention from the subject. You sir are a cad.

        • Kathleen3

          Rich, it is people such as you who Steve King, Jeff Sessions, Mo Brooks and Ted Cruz are so passionate to defend.
          It is reprehensible that our elected officials would push aside citizens who have every right to be here in favor of illegal aliens who have no right to be here.

  • Mr J.

    He supposedly may not “speak” for his party in the sense that he is saying what the rest of them are afraid to simply because they may scare their potential constituents. Doesn’t mean he’s right.

    • stormkite

      It’s not their constituents that scare them… it’s that their advertisers/contributors know that with the worst will in the world there aren’t yet a majority of sociopathic whackjobs in the US, so they have to keep guys like king and paul and the rest of the republicult on a deniability leash.

      Until the fourth reich wins the second civil war it will be necessary to keep the muzzles.

  • svivar9087

    Too bad we can’t have a class action suit asking for a public apology”de rodillas”
    Steve King is a perfect example of the “Peter Principle”

  • No Mass Amnesty

    How do you solve a problem like Steve King?

    You call him a racist and a bigot even if he speaks the truth.

    Shame on you, Trey Gowdy, John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

  • No Mass Amnesty

    What do Trey Gowdy, John Boehner and Eric Cantor think about those two illegal immigrants, ages 25 and 26 (dreamkid age), who just gang raped that 13 year old girl and videotaped it?

    Where’s their outrage over that?

    • Rich Vail

      they only have 36 more offenses to go before they’ll be deported…google it.

      Illegal convicted of 37 crimes deported

      • No Mass Amnesty

        Yeah, I saw that one too.


    • Kathleen3

      The problem Steve King presents to corrupted bought and paid for politicians such as Boehner and Cantor is he speaks the truth. Over 25,000 Americans have been killed/murdered and over one million the victims of sexual assaults committed by illegal aliens.
      In the 24/7 passionate display by our elected reps to reward these illegal aliens not one has acknowledged the human sacrifices (American victims of crimes by illegal aliens) cast aside in order to clear the path for the takeover of our country, culture, and sovereignty by the very people who invaded it.

      • TomasoPaine

        where do you get your numbers?

  • DrDean

    To understand what is really going on, ask yourself what’s in “immigration reform” for politicians. The answer is power. The bill is a corrupt political process concocted by a anti-American deal between Schumer and the GOP leadership to manufacture some 24M voters over 8 to 14 years with one bill.

    The vast majority of those votes will go to Democrats – no matter what lies the GOP wants us to believe. But.. the GOP is fronting the bill and the bill is fiercely “bipartisan”… Why?

    Because the manufactured votes will be very left-leaning and so will negate (nullify in political science terms) some 24M conservative votes. And Schumer, Obama (their staff wrote 98% of the bill and amendments…) and the GOP leaders have some sort of sordid, corrupt deal on splitting power.

    The Dems get the bill they’ve always wanted and in return they promise to nullify the conservative vote in the GOP, replacing it with shiny new “pathway” voters and the GOP will be free to drop the name “RINO” and become the new “Wannabe-Democrat” party.

    And then the Democrat-Left will have complete and unstoppable control of America.

  • ChrisSanchez

    I think some conservatives don’t get it. I am with Steve King on the issues. I am against amnesty. But when he makes unnecessarily provocative comments, they hurt the cause. We are against amnesty not because we think Hispanics or even illegal aliens are terrible people, per se. It’s just that what they have done–broken or violated our laws–is something we shouldn’t ignore officially. The best border security plan is to let it be known that there will be NO ACROSS THE BOARD AMNESTY. Period.

  • groscoe

    I totally support Steve King……….It is the RINOs and amnesty lovers I can’t stand.
    He is one of the few in Congress that actually tries to have the Rule of Law enforced.

    And these idiots who say the republicans can convert uneducated, unskilled and mostly unable to speak English Latinos to be republicans I have a few facts for you.

    Only 36% of all legal Mex. immigrants have become Naturalized Citizens content with legal status only and speaking Spanish in the barrio. Of those who became citiens only 6% did it for love of country……..19% did it for the benefits…..

    If Hispanics can be converted why aren’t their more black republicans? Most are uneducated and unskilled…….same as Hispanics……empty out the public housing of blacks and the places would look deserted………they vote democrat for the welfare……and they have no concept of what smaller govt or Rule of Law means.

  • TomasoPaine

    Frank, the women don’t get abortion after rape guy defends the compares immigrants to dogs guy. Great bench the Republicans have there.

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