Rep. Steve King has refused to apologize about comments he made last year that young illegal immigrants routinely smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico, telling an Iowa newspaper the statement was "objectively true."
A nationwide firestorm erupted after the conservative Iowa Republican in July said that for every young immigrant who comes to the U.S. and becomes a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there that — they weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert” into the U.S.
King even drew sharp criticisms from fellow Republicans, with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio calling his remarks "offensive and wrong."
But in an interview with the Daily Reporter of Spencer that was posted on YouTube this week, King accused his critics of "calling [him] names" in lieu of having a serious conservation about immigration.
"They cannot make a point about anything I've said that was anything other than true," he told the newspaper. "I'll stand on the principles that I've laid out."
"Sometimes I've made a point for years and they weren't listening, so I found another way to get them to pay attention."
Regarding the blowback he got from Boehner and others in his party, King said he won't tone down his rhetoric despite intra-party pressure.
"What I've said is objectively true, and anytime that Republicans have criticized me — it's not because of what I said – it's because they disagree with my agenda," he told the newspaper. "When they start calling [me] names, they've lost the debate."