Travelers are canceling their Iowa vacations to protest anti-LGBT, anti-Immigrant Steve King’s recent inflammatory Tweet and subsequent remarks. Earlier this month King demonstrated support for far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders in a deeply anti-immigrant Tweet. Now, the Iowa Tourism Office, which typically receives just a couple of complaints a month about traveling in the state, is facing a barrage of Tweets, emails, calls, and Facebook posts from would-be tourists threatening to boycott the state, according to USA Today.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
Potential travelers to the state, including those who participate in the popular state-wide cycling event Ragbrai, are considering staying home over the Tweet that King doubled down on when presented with an opportunity to clarify.
"Well, of course, I meant exactly what I said," King told CNN. He expounded by adding, "You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life."
State officials and members of the tourism board have scrambled to distance themselves from King’s statement. Earlier this week the Travel Iowa Twitter account tweeted, "Iowans are diverse, progressive and tolerant. We welcome all people to experience our state."
In light of King’s remarks and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s subsequent approval of them, Iowa Republican’s have also denounced King’s statements.
“First of all, I do not agree with Congressman King's statement. We are a nation of immigrants, and diversity is the strength of any nation and any community,” Republican Party Chairman of Iowa Jeff Kaufmann said, according to USA Today. “Regarding David Duke, his words and sentiments are absolute garbage. He is not welcome in our wonderful state.”
Possible fallout, from King’s remarks, which threatens the $8 billion tourism industry, was addressed at a meeting of the Iowa Economic Development Authority board’s monthly meeting on Friday.
"I think that sometimes elected officials — specifically Congressman King — don't think of anything but themselves when they make those bigoted comments,” said board member David Bernstein. “And there's a direct impact on the business of Iowa tourism."