If you are a plain spoken midwesterner (D) then you're
"Good 'ol Give-'em-hell-Harry Truman."
If you are a plain spoken midwesterner (R) then you're
"Brash, 'some say-' Offensive, Controversial."
He wasn't my first choice in the primary 4 years ago, but I sure like him now
and have voted for him ever since.
He is strong on borders and immigration, a straight shooter.
Iowa lawmaker's brashness earns notice
By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press WriterTue Sep 26, 10:30 AM ET
He's described torture at Abu Ghraib as "hazing," argued that living in Iraq is safer than in Washington and dismissed President Bush's guest worker immigration program as amnesty.
Two-term Republican Rep. Steve King (news, bio, voting record) doesn't shy from controversy, and his perspective has earned him praise from conservatives — and disdain from those who consider him outlandish.
"He says so many idiotic things. I just see him as a wacko," says Suzanne Ryan, one of King's constituents in his rural, western Iowa congressional district.
Still, King remains popular, and his penchant for brash, and some say offensive, sound bites has helped the 57-year-old construction company owner become something of a national spokesman for his party's far-right wing.
"At the FRC (Family Research Council), he's a good friend to the family," says Tom McCluskey, the vice president for government affairs of the conservative group. "Steve King is right out front. He's one of the most articulate and one of the most willing to speak up."
Among King's notable comments:
_He argued that the media exaggerated the story of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
_After compiling what he called an accurate civilian violent death rate for Iraq, he said living there was safer than in some U.S. cities, including New Orleans and Detroit.
"I have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me," he said on the floor of the House. "I can tell you, she is in far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C., than an average civilian in Iraq."
_He called Bush and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., an amnesty coalition and said "amnesty mercenaries of the Senate" should have a "big, bright, scarlet letter 'A' branded on their robes."
King also led a rebellion of 80 House Republicans who opposed renewal of the Voting Rights Act because of a provision that required state and local governments to print ballots in foreign languages or provide interpreters.
Some see King's rhetoric and hardline views as bombast, but his methods have opened new avenues for his political ambitions, which may include a run against four-term Sen. Tom Harkin (news, bio, voting record) in 2008. King also has raised the profile of his district, a sprawling farming region with only two sizable cities — Council Bluffs and Sioux City.
"He is a showman," says Teresa Wolf, a Democrat from Sioux City who doesn't plan to vote for King this fall. "He wants attention and he delivers messages in such outlandish terms that it gets him a lot of publicity. Which is apparently what the man wants."
In an interview, King owns up to wanting attention.
"I sometimes use flowery language to make a point," he says. "It's usually a way to start debate."
But he quarrels with the notion that he is flippant, that he doesn't think before he speaks.
"That wasn't an off-the-cuff remark," he says of his comments on Abu Ghraib, the Baghdad prison where abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers led to an international scandal. "I looked up the word 'hazing' before I spoke."
In his district there are many, like Madeline Meyer, who think King is just what the country needs.
"He's got a true feel for issues that don't work well in the national media," says Meyer, a self-described 60-something from Odebolt, a sleepy town just a few miles from King's home in Kiron.
She supports King's efforts on immigration and establishing English as a national language, calling him an adept politician with a particular feel for voter concerns. "He gets along with everybody," she says. "He listens."
Others don't share this sanguine view.
On the Internet, at least one Web site — http://www.kingwatch.org — is dedicated to bashing King. The site is run by an anonymous group that claims to comprise residents in Iowa's 5th Congressional District.
King's opponent in November's election, Democrat Joyce Schulte, likewise has a hard time being diplomatic when she talks about him.
"I don't know if I have enough words in the English dictionary for this," she says. "It's unbelievable how he wastes the job."
King tends to ignore the critics and stands by what he says, even the crisp one-liners that make liberal groups howl.
A notable exception came earlier this year when King apologized to 86-year-old White House correspondent Helen Thomas. King had told a group of Republican Party activists days after the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, "There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he's at. And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.