Comprehensive immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Sunday told a host of the Spanish-language network Univision that his speech comparing immigrants to hunting dogs was intended to be "complimentary."
Speaking to a crowd in Pocahontas, Iowa in 2012, King had said that the U.S. should only allow the “pick of the litter” when selecting immigrants.
"You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest, the one that’s going to be engaged the most, not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner," he explained. "You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog."
On Sunday, Univision's Jorge Ramos confronted the congressman about the comparison.
"No I didn't, that's a mischaracterization," King insisted. "Look at the original source. That didn't happen."
"I read it," Ramos pointed out. "And many people found it offensive."
"People write things on the internet all the time," King argued. "But did you watch the video, the full video? That speech was about celebrating legal immigration."
"It was not a celebration," Ramos observed. "In a town hall meeting in Iowa, you actually compared immigrants to dogs. And many people would find that offensive and racist."
"I thought you would probably repeat yourself on that. I told you if you watch that video you would know that was a speech celebrating legal immigrants," King shot back. "Legal, not illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants. And I said they are the cream of the crop."
"So you don't want to apologize because of that comment?" Ramos wondered.
"I said that speech was about the vigor of legal immigration," the Iowa Republican replied. "It was a very complimentary speech and no I did not do that."
"You know it is not complimentary to compare a group of people -- immigrants to animals," Ramos concluded.
Watch this video from Univision, broadcast July 21, 2013.
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(h/t: Think Progress)