Republican Congressman Steve King says he stands by his assessment that terrorists will celebrate if Democratic candidate Barack Obama is elected president. "What is discouraging to me is to hear all the allegations that came out and all the name-calling that came my way because I pointed out something that has to do with the culture of the Middle East and how it will be viewed and how a declaration for defeat as a presidential candidate will be viewed by our enemies," King said during a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. "They’ll see it as victory and that’s really the central point."
King’s initial comments last Friday in Spencer drew criticism as well as national attention and Obama’s campaign demanded that Republican presidential candidate John McCain denounce the remarks. During an interview this morning with Radio Iowa, King said his remarks were "factually accurate" and a "reasonable" assessment of how Obama’s viewed in the Middle East. "And it’s something the American people should be thinking about," King said.
King accuses the media of missing his main point, that Obama’s promise to pull American troops out of Iraq will be celebrated by the terrorists as an American defeat. "They will be dancing in the streets and they’ll be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11th," King said. "They will declare victory and they will use it to recruit more al Qaeda."
It was King’s mention of Obama’s middle name, which is Hussein, that drew the most ire from critics this past weekend. King maintains he never used the name "Hussein" in his remarks, but King did refer to Obama’s "middle name" as a having different meaning for Muslims overseas. This morning, King expanded on that. "His middle name is the name of the grandson of Mohammad. It’s used many, many times throughout the Muslim world and it associates itself with the religion and with the heritage and with the struggle and with some of the violence that’s over there as well," King said during an interview with Radio Iowa. "And so it isn’t just one person who was a dictator in Iraq, it’s a thread that goes through the entire Muslim world."
King has been invited to appear on CNN this evening shortly after seven o’clock Iowa time to discuss his comments.