SIOUX CITY -- U.S. Rep. Steve King on Saturday met the goal he set in early January, by holding a public town hall meeting in Wall Lake, which meant he'd visited all the 39 counties of the 4th congressional district over one year.
King had declined to hold public town hall meetings in recent years, variously saying outside groups had started paying protesters to disrupt his town halls and that the protests could turn violent.
Through those 39 public events he held held in small (the tiniest burg was Hornick, population 219), medium and larger county seat towns (Ames and Fort Dodge) over nine months, the outspoken conservative congressman made many statements that drew applause from fans and caused critics to say he is out of touch.
The previously planned town halls began a few days after making controversial comments to the New York Times that resulted in King being stripped of his committee assignments.
That action was taken by Republican leaders in January, following a national uproar over King's quote in a New York Times story in which he asked, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
Several town hall meeting comments landed King in national news cycles, such as when in Audubon, Iowa, he made light of China reportedly forcing Muslim women in concentration camps to eat pork in violation of their Islamic faith.
Here is a recap of King's greatest hits, in the town halls covered by the Journal.
PRIMGHAR IN O'BRIEN COUNTY, JAN. 26
A few dozen people, mostly King supporters, showed up for a one-hour event, along with perhaps a dozen members of media organizations. King briefly addressed the backlash to his New York Times comments, calling that "the elephant in the room."
"It is stunning and astonishing to me that four words in a New York Times quote can outweigh 20-some years of public service, 20-some years of giving you my word every day, and not one soul has stood up and said that I've ever lied to you or misrepresented anything or given it to you with any spin that's anything other than what I believe to be the objective truth," King said.
ROCK RAPIDS IN LYON COUNTY, FEB. 18
In front of another friendly audience, King urged his supporters to pray for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to restore his committee assignments, saying the California Republican needs to "separate his ego from this issue and look at it objectively."
"Kevin McCarthy has been getting a lot of phone calls, and the more phone calls he gets and the more persistent that it is, the more he is gonna realize that it was a bad decision he made, based upon one comment misquoted in The New York Times, reported as fact," King told the audience of 45 people.
People who wanted to address King were asked to write their names, what town they live in and questions on a slip of paper, then a King staffer called on the five people to voice their queries in the meeting.
LE MARS IN PLYMOUTH COUNTY, APRIL 6:
King reminisced on his repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his concerns about the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S.
Gerald Toft of Hawarden, one of many King supporters in the mostly friendly audience of roughly 60, asked if any Republicans had walked back their rebuke of the congressman. King said few if any of his colleagues have apologized so far.
Outside the town hall, a group of roughly 20 anti-King demonstrators held signs and made brief statements about their displeasure with the congressman. That made for one of the few times a large display was shown against King in his 39 meetings.
CHEROKEE IN CHEROKEE COUNTY, APRIL 24:
Referencing the recent Easter season, King said the criticism he's faced from his "accusers" in the U.S. House has given him “better insight into what (Christ) went through for us."
"For all that I've been through -- and it seems even strange for me to say it -- but I am at a certain peace, and it is because of a lot of prayers for me," King told about 30 people.
“And, when I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, and look up at those 400-and-some accusers, you know we just passed through Easter and Christ's passion, and I have better insight into what He went through for us partly because of that experience."
King’s comments Tuesday came in response to a question from The Rev. Pinky Person of Cherokee. Person cited how Christian principles can boost the nation toward healing and solving problems.
HORNICK IN WOODBURY COUNTY, MAY 28
King said he doesn't support the popular election of presidents, discussed the "injustice" of losing his committee positions and preceded it all by specially honoring Hornick residents who evacuated the town for a few days following March flooding.
The recognition ceremony for "acts of valor" was held at Hornick's city hall, where 55 people saw King give honors to six residents. King lauded the work of Mayor Scott Mitchell, and Hornick residents were allowed to return home March 18 after the floodwaters receded.
ALTON IN SIOUX COUNTY, JUNE 15
Speaking to just over a dozen people, King discussed his Republican challengers, who will be on a June 2020 primary election ballot with him. The field includes state Rep. Randy Feenstra, of Hull, former state legislator Jeremy Taylor, of Sioux City, and Bret Richards, a former mayor of Irwin.
King, who was first elected in 2002, returned to familiar topics during the town hall, including stating his opposition to abortion. He said illegal immigrants have killed more Americans than the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
STORM LAKE IN BUENA VISTA COUNTY, AUG. 18
King denounced two media organizations during a fiery town hall that attracted dozens.
King had faced nationwide blowback for a week after he reportedly told a conservative group in a Des Moines suburb his opposition to abortion includes cases of rape and incest, asking "Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?"
His comments prompted Ashley WolfTornabane, of Storm Lake, to take him to task at the town hall.
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"The Des Moines Register misquoted me...Social media spreads it like a virus, like a plague. And so, the Des Moines Register retracted their statement and corrected it, the AP retracted their statement and corrected it," King said.
The Register did publish a correction on the article, apparently adding a full quote from him where they had previously used an abridged quote, but they did not retract the article or any quotes from him; the corrected information did not appear to significantly alter the substance of what was said.
A video widely available online shows King making the controversial remarks.
ASHTON IN OSCEOLA COUNTY, SEPT. 5
King criticized federal law enforcement agencies and officials that have become targets of the Donald Trump administration.
James Comey, the former FBI director, came under fire late last month after the Justice Department's inspector general issued a report condemning Comey's handling of internal memos before his May 2017 departure. According to the Associated Press, Comey broke FBI rules by giving a memo containing unclassified information to a friend, with instructions to share the contents with a reporter.
King suggested Comey should have been charged with a crime.
"It looks to me like this nefarious plan to deny the president -- first, to deny Donald Trump the presidency -- and then, as the president-elect, try to destroy him to the point where he couldn't effectively govern, and then to try to take him down and out of office," King said.
"It looks to me like the DOJ was involved, the FBI was involved, the State Department was involved, the CIA may well have been involved."
ONAWA IN MONONA COUNTY, SEPT. 6
Too many Americans are bitter "snowflakes" who can't take a joke, King told a group of 20 people.
"I mean, what is wrong with America? Is it growing full of these snowflakes that have no sense of humor, that there is just bitterness? Even comedians are complaining now that there is nothing that is politically correct enough that they can say," King said.
King said catering to "snowflakes" has resulted in a soft mentality in America that's prevented problems such as illegal immigration from getting solved.
King also made other notable comments in other town halls, as shown here.
CHARTER OAK IN CRAWFORD COUNTY, MARCH 22
Gov. John Bel Edwards and other top Louisiana officials condemned King for his comments comparing victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with western Iowans inundated by recent flooding.
The outcry came after King, in Charter Oak, recounted a conversation with with an unidentified Federal Emergency Management Agency official, who praised Iowans for their willingness to help each other.
"But here’s what FEMA tells me: ‘We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’ ” King told the audience. "We go to a place like Iowa, and we go, we go see, knock on the door at, and say, I'll make up a name, John's place, and say, 'John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you.' And John will say, 'Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It's Joe that needs help. Let's go down to his place and help him.' "
Bel Edwards, a Democrat, decried King's comments as "disgusting and disheartening."
PARKERSBURG IN BUTLER COUNTY, JULY 2
King railed against illegal immigration, saying undocumented immigrants -- who legally cannot vote -- are watering down congressional districts in favor of Democrats.
"Your vote as a citizen is diluted by illegal aliens," King said.
King said the tide of undocumented immigrants could change the political makeup of congressional districts, becoming a majority in a single district in 24 weeks.
AMES IN STORY COUNTY, JULY 19
King said political payback was behind a prominent Christian conservative leader’s endorsement of one of King’s Republican challenger Feenstra. Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the Family Leader, earlier that week boosted Feenstra, and King said that was because he nominated Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor instead of Vander Plaats in 2010.
“This is how that score’s getting settled,” King told reporters Friday after the town hall.
In 2010, Vander Plaats was defeated in the Republican primary in Iowa’s race for governor. But some party activists then nominated him to be lieutenant governor, which required him to square off at the party’s state convention against Reynolds, Terry Branstad’s pick to be his running mate.
AUDUBON IN AUDUBON COUNTY, AUG. 27
King made light of China reportedly forcing Muslim women in concentration camps to eat pork in violation of their Islamic faith.
King recounted China's alleged crackdown against the nation’s ethnic Uighur minority and other Islamic groups. The abuses, King said, include rounding up the Uighur, sterilizing their women, "so there’s no more Uighurs to be born," and putting them on a Chinese diet, "which includes trying to force them to eat pork.”
“That’s the only part of that I agree with," King said with a laugh. "Everybody ought to eat pork. If you have a shortage of bacon, you can’t be happy.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a release, described King as a "deplorable white supremacist" who "obviously hates Muslims and thinks it is funny to joke about Uyghur Muslim women in Chinese concentration camps being forced to eat pork and be sterilized."
EAGLE GROVE IN WRIGHT COUNTY, SEPT. 4
King said he recently drank water out of a toilet tank at an El Paso, Texas, detention center for migrants, to prove the point that critics of the facilities are overstating concerns. This year has seen several reports of dire conditions in detention facilities, and Democrats in particular have been speaking against how children are treated in some.
King said he went into a cell where migrants had reportedly drunk water out of a toilet.
"I took a drink out of there. And actually, pretty good! So I have a videotape and I smacked my lips," King said.
King said the toilets he saw were akin to those in prisons.
"In the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that's also sealed. And there's a water fountain there, you push the button, the water comes out and you take a drink, it's how it is. It's not drinking out of the toilet, it's drinking the water out of the water faucet that's integral with the back of the toilet," King said.