WALL LAKE, Iowa -- U.S. Rep. Steve King only had to travel 10 miles from his rural Kiron, Iowa, home Saturday morning to recount traditional issue positions on immigration, guns and abortion, as he completed his goal of holding town hall meetings in all 39 counties of the 4th congressional district this year.
Speaking to 30 people at the Wall Lake Shelterhouse in an early event that began at 8:30 a.m., King found people didn’t really come ready to pose questions. They were receptive to the message by the nine-term congressman whom many personally know.
“This is a bit of a homecoming,” said Rob Germann, a Wall Lake councilman who said he’s known King since the mid-1990s.
King, a Republican, began by sharing why he didn’t hold public town hall meetings in 2017 and 2018, citing previous events in which dissenters showed up with colored cards saying “No,” and not willing to listen to his message.
“I’m not going to create a forum for protesting,” King said.
He then noted how at the beginning of the year he had a turnabout and decided to hold town hall meetings in each county of the district that spans Northwest and North Central Iowa.
“I’m glad we did...We’ve been from end to end with this,” King said.
The town halls were all slated for an hour, and King extended this one as he riffed on his political positions, since only two people initially asked questions after his 35 minutes of introductory remarks.
King often defended the positions of Republican Donald Trump, while returning to his practice of denouncing familiar Democratic foils, such as coastal U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters.
King cited Ocasio-Cortez in defending a tough stance on immigration law enforcement. He said she didn’t present a clear picture this summer when going to border detention facilities where undocumented migrants have been held. King said his journeys to the detention facilities at the Mexican border were legitimate checks on conditions, and he said plentiful showers, medical facilities,food and toiletries are stocked.
“There has been a lot of hyperventilation on the treatment of people sneaking in,” he said. “...That drinking out of a toilet allegation doesn’t hold up, once you look at it.”
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For another time in a recent town hall meeting, King shared how in an El Paso detention center he drank out of a tank connected to a toilet.
“I took a drink out of it,” he said.
After his introductory remarks on trade and immigration, Dennis Cook, of Schaller, and Gordon Mooney, of Sac City, posed questions to King. Mooney described ongoing frustrations with “concurrent pay” issues with federal pension benefits, adding that there’s apparently not enough federal funding for people like him.
“How much money are we paying on illegal aliens? Fix that problem, then we can fix my problem,” Mooney said.
Seeing no other questions coming, King said he would talk to fill out the rest of the meeting, and while people could ponder possible queries. In that time, King referenced his introduction of anti-abortion legislation, his showing in the U.S. House last decade of a possible border wall model to pursue and touted the great lives Iowans lead in tight-knit communities.
“This is about the perfect town to say that,” he said, surveying the audience in Wall Lake.
After King cited his stance of opposition to gun control in a time of frequent mass shootings, saying the Second Amendment right to own guns shouldn’t be curtailed, since they can be used in a time of any future “tyranny” ahead, two other people shared comments from the tables.
A man asked whether high capacity rounds of ammunition should be banned in certain guns and a woman spoke against abortion and the “unnatural” practice of gay marriage.
King then concluded the 20 extra minutes tacked onto the hour by speaking out against the New York Times. He cited the January article in which he spoke about white nationalism, saying he was posing a hypothetical question that didn’t deserve to see Republican House leaders as a result strip his participation on committees.
“You got me on a little bit of a rant there,” King said.