Iowa Rep. Steve King is no stranger to controversy. But even still, his comments on Twitter Sunday sparked an especially strong reaction from both sides of the aisle.
The Republican, who was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, quoted a tweet about Dutch prime minister candidate Geert Wilders that was critical of Islam, and added a comment of his own.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies,” King wrote.
The original tweet King was responding to came from “Voice of Europe,” a self-described anti-European Union account that has tweeted critically about immigrants and refugees entering Europe in the past. The tweet was accompanied by a cartoon of Wilders plugging a hole in the wall of “Western civilization,” while an angry mob of bearded men stands nearby with signs that read “Infidels, Know Your Limits” and “Freedom of Speech Go To Hell.”
King has already endorsed Wilders, a far-right candidate who wants to shut down every mosque and ban the Quran in the Netherlands. In another tweet, King included an image of him with Wilders, saying “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.”
But Sunday’s tweet drew widespread condemnation from liberals and conservatives, who saw it as advocacy for a white nationalist agenda.
One of his colleagues and fellow Republicans in the House, Carlos Curbelo, responded to the tweet, asking for clarification and describing himself as “concerned.”
Former independent conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who has frequently attacked Trump since he took office, called on other Republicans to condemn the statement.
A former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Reid Ribble, also slammed the tweet.
A former Republican administration official, Bruce Bartlett, called the tweet, “the most racist statement I have ever heard from a sitting US congressman.”
Meanwhile, King’s most recent electoral opponent, Democrat Kim Weaver, used the tweet as an opportunity to fundraise for a potential 2018 bid against him. According to a tweet she sent Sunday night, she raised $19,000 in one day, more than 12 percent of the funds for her entire 2016 campaign. However, the path to victory for Weaver would be extremely narrow: King has won election eight times now, and all but once won by more than 20 percentage points.
Former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean also slammed King, calling him a “total ignoramus.”
Still, King’s tweet did prove popular with some people. Former KKK grand wizard and white supremacist David Duke tweeted several supportive messages about King on Sunday, even suggesting he should run for president in 2024.
This is hardly the first time King has provoked outrage from many. Among his previous statements, he has openly wondered what other “subgroup” of people besides whites has contribued to western civilization, he has argued on the House floor for an electrified border wall, and he has also said that the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage means he could legally marry his lawnmower. He was also observed to have a Confederate flag on his desk, despite the fact that Iowa remained in the Union during the Civil War.