Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was given multiple chances on Thursday and repeatedly refused to deny that he had a "thinly-veiled bias against Latinos."
In an interview on CNN's New Day, host Kate Bolduan asked King why leaders of his party were distancing themselves from him after he said that many immigrants had "calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert" if he was right on the issue of immigration.
"Last year, almost everybody in my conference would have agreed with me on this immigration issue," the Iowa Republican explained. "And this year, it seems as though after the presidential election, a spell has been cast over a good number of Republicans, and they seem to think they presidential election was about immigration. I'd ask them, find me that debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama that addressed immigration. I don't remember it."
King said that he didn't understand why Republicans were so worried about pandering to Hispanics because Mitt Romney had "arrested that decline" by getting a larger share of the vote than former Republican nominee John McCain had in 2008.
Bolduan pointed out that Hispanic Republican strategist Ana Navarro had slammed King over the weekend as a "mediocre congressman with no legislative record" and suggested that he should "get some therapy for his melon fixation."
"Your comments, she thinks, some others think, are a veiled bias against Latinos," the CNN host noted. "Do you just not like Latinos?"
King, however, dodged that question and went on the attack against Navarro.
"Ana didn't veil her bias against me," he complained. "She didn't address a single fact that I delivered. She simply hurled accusations and baseless allegations... We have a debate here that's going on, they have an agenda. They're for open borders, they're for amnesty. They might say they're for border security. That's a means to get to the end of this perpetual retroactive amnesty."
"You said that Ana Navarro didn't answer any of your questions, you didn't answer any of mine either," Bolduan observed.
"Right," King agreed. "Try again."
"That your comments come across as a thinly-veiled bias against Latinos," Bolduan said.
"If people interpret it that way, I'd like to have them explain it," King replied. "My statement was very narrowly defined, not even just to drug smugglers, but to drug smugglers who are habitual, professional drug smugglers, who are in physical shape to carry 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. That's what I described. And it's amazing to me that anyone could interpret anything in there that had anything to do with race or ethnicity."
"The data that I put out here is factual," he continued. "The violent death rate in the countries south of us are greater all the way down to Argentina and Chile, and when you bring in young men from any civilization, especially if they have drugs with them, you know you're going to have more violence. It's a demographic fact."