DES MOINES, Iowa -- Governor Kim Reynolds is facing calls to remove congressman Steve King from her campaign committee. It follows King's Twitter post on Friday saying, "diversity is not our strength." The post caught the eyes of thousands on social media.
“That tweet was clearly meant to provoke, and I have to admit it worked,” says Ames native Shawn Sebastian.
Sebastian says the post was disrespectful to his heritage. He immediately responded to the post, sharing his parents' immigration story from India to Iowa nearly 40 years ago and how their diversity has strengthened the state. In return, he says the congressman mocked him by posting a picture of a laughing minion character to his page.
“We are the diversity that Steve King is saying is weakening Iowa," says Sebastian.
Drake political professor Rachel Paine-Caufield says to understand King’s tweets, you have to look at his roots. She says his rhetoric reflects the viewpoints of many in King’s rural fourth district, a seat he’s held since 2002.
“They are deeply anxious about the ways that America is changing. It makes them uncomfortable, especially in the small towns where the population is dropping and they are seeing immigrants come into their small towns,” she says.
While King voices his opinion on a public platform, it could have a damaging effect. Paine-Caufield says the combination of a vocal politician plus social media is causing political parties to divide from within.
“It really amplifies a lot of these one-off comments that have always been a part of American politics, but now we are seeing them in a very public sphere.”
Some Iowa Democrats are calling for the congressman to be removed from the governor’s campaign committee. Governor Reynolds has yet to respond to calls to remove King from the campaign committee. Her spokesperson says the governor strongly disagrees with King's sentiment and does not think it is reflective of Iowans or Iowa values.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Iowa GOP, Jeff Kaufmann, did not personally name the congressman in his tweet, but offered his views on diversity, saying, "Ours are the faces of all humanity, just as our nation was built by the hopes of all humanity."
Sebastian says the governor keeping King on her committee perpetuates the problem and keeps King from tackling more pressing issues facing Iowans.
“He's spending his time on the internet, like trolling people on Facebook as if he has nothing better to do. I think that's actually the most offensive part of all of this. Iowans face real problems that actually need real solutions.”