The conservative congressman Steve King drew bipartisan condemnation for saying “our civilization” couldn’t be restored “with somebody else’s babies” while the Iowa representative defended his comments and said they were “not about race”.
On Sunday, King praised the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has espoused anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and last month called Moroccans “scum”.
“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King wrote on Twitter, linking to another tweet in praise of Wilders. “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
Asked to clarify his comments on Monday, King told CNN’s New Day: “I meant exactly what I said, as is always the case.”
King expanded, saying he had delivered the same message to an audience in Europe.
“You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies,” he reiterated. “You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
A spokesman for the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said King’s “vile racism has no place in decent society, much less in the US Congress”.
“It’s no accident that communities across America have been threatened by emboldened racists,” the spokesman, Drew Hammill, said. “The GOP leadership must stop accommodating this garbage, and condemn congressman Steve King’s statements in the strongest and most unequivocal terms.”
Through a spokeswoman, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, expressed disagreement with King’s comments.
“The speaker clearly disagrees and believes America’s long history of inclusiveness is one of its great strengths,” said Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong in a statement.
By Monday, King’s remarks had drawn condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from his House colleagues in both parties.
The Florida Republican representative Carlos Curbelo, who is the son of Cuban exiles, addressed King directly on Twitter.
The Georgia Democratic congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader, called King’s comments “bigoted” and “racist”.
Linking to King’s tweet, Lewis wrote on Twitter: “It suggests there is one tradition & one appearance that all humanity should conform to.”
And the Democratic representative…