Conservative immigration hawk Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has kept a list of between a dozen and 16 “prominent” Republicans who have lobbed personal attacks against him.
“Their agenda has been marginalized,” King said in an interview with MSNBC. “Mine’s been strengthened.”
King has won attention for saying that young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children were used primarily as drug mules and that they had “calves the size of cantaloups” thanks to carrying bales of marijuana. Those comments caused House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to say that was “hateful language” and privately call King an “asshole” according to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).
King’s comments come ahead of his Iowa Freedom Summit where a number of potentially serious 2016 Republican presidential candidates —New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) among others, are slated to attend.
This, for King, is a sign that his hardline anti-immigration views have not in fact detracted from his influence.
“This is the beginning of the selection process for the planks of the platform for the next president of the United States,” King said. “The speeches they give —some of that will live to and through the general election.”
Two other prominent Republicans who could run for president in 2016 —former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, are not scheduled to attend the Freedom Summit. Both are associated with the more establishment wing of the GOP.
Correction: This story mistakenly identified Castro as a Republican instead of a Democrat. We regret the error.