As congressional Republicans prepare to kill comprehensive immigration reform, the party is taking a beating in Spanish-language media, which only serves to compound the GOP’s troubles when it comes to reaching out to the Latino community.
But don’t worry, Republicans, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is eager to put things right. He appeared on Jorge Ramos’ Univision program over the weekend.
For those who can’t watch clips online, Ramos asked the right-wing Iowan about his remarks last year in which King compared immigrants to dogs. King rejected the host’s characterization. “[I]f you watch that video you would know that was a speech celebrating legal immigrants,” King said. “Legal, not illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants. And I said they are the cream of the crop.”
When the lawmaker insisted it was “a very complimentary speech,” the host added, “[I]t is not complimentary to compare a group of immigrants to animals.”
There are two broad angles to keep in mind here. The first is that King isn’t telling the truth – I posted the video of the comments in question a year ago, and he very clearly compared immigrants to dogs. “You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest … not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner,” the Iowan said while talking about immigration policy.
King may want Univision viewers to perceive comments like these as a “celebration” of immigration, but I’d argue any sane interpretation of his remarks suggests otherwise.
The second is the political context in which King’s argument with Ramos is occurring.
In this case, when King wasn’t on the defensive, denying an ugly comparison that he clearly made in public, he was condemning immigration reform and arguing that if Congress approves the Dream Act, “we have failed our founding fathers and we have diminished the destiny of this nation.”
In other words, as the debate over immigration policy takes center stage, and the eyes on Latino voters watch developments closely, Steve King – Steve King! – accepts an interview request from Univision, insults the audience, and gets into an argument with a widely respected host about his analogy comparing immigrants to dogs.
This, of course, comes against the backdrop of the RNC’s “rebranding” campaign and the party’s outreach to the Latino community.
You can almost hear Reince Priebus smacking his forehead in disgust.