White House distances itself from King comments

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2014, file photo, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa speaks in Des Moines. King in a tweet Sunday, March 12, 2017, paid tribute to Geert Wilders, a veteran member of the Dutch Parliament who founded the Party of Freedom. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Tuesday distanced itself from Republican Rep. Steve King's inflammatory comments about immigrants, as Democrats pressed House GOP leaders to punish the Iowa lawmaker by stripping him of a chairmanship.

King said this weekend that America can't restore "our civilization with somebody else's babies" and warned of a liberal effort to destroy Western civilization through immigration. Questioned about the comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump "believes that this is not a point of view that he shares."

"He believes he's the president for all Americans, and so I'll leave it at that," Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing.

King was a strong supporter of Trump in the 2016 campaign and backed the candidate's tough stand on immigration.

In a statement Tuesday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders should immediately take the chairmanship of a House Judiciary subcommittee from King.

"Where are Speaker Ryan and the GOP leadership?" asked Pelosi, D-Calif. "Does their silence mean Congressman Steve King's vile racism is acceptable? House Republicans think they can keep quiet, but their contempt for the great diversity of our nation is being heard loud and clear."

Several Republicans and Democrats criticized King for his comments, with Ryan saying he disagreed with the remarks.

"We're a melting pot. My family's here because the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland," he told Fox News Monday night. "The American idea is this beautiful idea which is there for everyone, which is that the condition of your birth doesn't determine your outcome in life."

Ryan said he hadn't spoken with King. "I'd like to think he misspoke and it wasn't really meant the way it sounds and hopefully he's clarified that," said the Wisconsin Republican.

King stood by his comments in a Monday CNN interview in which he also said, "If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I'd like to see an America that (is) so homogenous that we look a lot the same from that perspective."

King's initial comments on Twitter were part of a tribute to Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who opposes immigration and has spoken against Islam. It came as the Dutch prepared for an election for prime minister.

King is known for making racially charged commentary. Last year, at the Republican National Convention, King questioned contributions to civilization by nonwhites. In 2013, he described children in the country illegally as having "calves the size of cantaloupes because they've been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

Later Monday, in an interview with Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson on 1040 WHO, King said blacks and Hispanics will be battling each other before whites become the minority in the United States.

King was responding to Univision's Jorge Ramos' comments about changes in the U.S. demographic in the next decades.

"When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other's throats. And he's adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens," King said.