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Democrats on Tuesday denounced an Iowa Republican congressman who says President Barack Obama favors blacks over whites, and a GOP candidate from Colorado canceled a fundraiser the Iowan was to keynote.
Rep. Steve King, known for sometimes incendiary remarks about immigration, Abu Ghraib and other issues, criticized Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, who also is black, in an interview Monday on G. Gordon Liddy’s nationally syndicated radio talk show.
“I’m offended by Eric Holder and the president also, their posture,” said King, 61. “It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race.”
King continued: “The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race on the side that favors the black person in the case of professor Gates and officer Crowley.”
He was alluding to last year’s incident in which Obama commented on a white police officer’s arrest of a black professor from Harvard University.
As news of King’s remarks spread, GOP House candidate Cory Gardner of Colorado canceled a planned $100 per-plate fundraiser where King was to speak. King’s appearance was also canceled at a Colorado tea party gathering where he was scheduled to appear.
“His comments do not represent the tea party,” said Owen Loftus, a spokesman for Republican Ken Buck, who is running for Senate in Colorado.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, criticized Gardner for having scheduled King. “This is just the kind of over-the-top extremism that Colorado voters have rejected again and again,” Stone said.
King, a four-term lawmaker, made similar remarks about Obama in a speech last month.
“When he had an Irish cop and a black professor, who’d he side with?” King said. “He jumped to a conclusion without having heard the facts. And he ended up having to have a beer summit. The president of the United States has got to articulate a mission. And instead, he’s playing race-bait games to undermine the law enforcement in the state of Arizona and across the country.”
Holder, in a 2009 speech, did not suggest that whites are more cowardly than blacks when discussing race, as King indicated in the radio interview.
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot,” Holder said, “in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
When asked Tuesday night in a telephone interview whether he regretted his comments, King said: “In no way do I. It’s the White House that needs to answer questions, not me. It is absolutely right and I will continue to make the point.”
King, a former construction company owner, drew earlier criticism for comments about the Iraq war. He said the news media exaggerated the story of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and dismissed it as hazing.
And after compiling what he called an accurate civilian violent death rate for Iraq, he said living there was safer than in some U.S. cities, including New Orleans and Detroit.
Christopher Reed, an Iowa conservative activist, defended King.
“He is one of those few politicians who really says what he thinks,” Reed said. “One man’s controversial is another man’s truth.”
Associated Press writer Mike Glover in Iowa and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press