As a former chief-of-staff to Governor Terry Branstad and as a former gubernatorial candidate himself, Doug Gross understands state government and campaigns better than most. This weekend, the opinionated Gross was a guest on WHO TV’s “The Insiders” with Dave Price. Gross and Price discussed a number of topics, but Gross’s harsh critique of Republican Congressman Steve King made headlines over the weekend.
Gross was asked about a comment that King made at a rally in Nebraska last week. King told the audience that an immigration official once told him that the number of deaths caused by illegal immigrants in American is likely, “in multiples of the victims of September 11. Now that hits home, doesn’t it? … Three thousand times something.”
King was citing Mike Cutler, a former senior special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. It’s also worth noting that King was speaking at a remembrance ceremony for Louise Sollowin, a 93-year old Nebraska woman who was brutally raped and beaten by 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico in July. Sollowin died following the violent and unspeakable act.
Now her family and many in the community are wanting to make sure similar acts never happen again and are calling for the enforcement immigration laws as well as an end to sanctuary policies across the country that protect illegal migrants. Sollowin’s killer had been in the country illegally for the past four years.
In responding to Price’s question about King’s recent statement that illegal immigrants are responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans each year, Gross said, “I’m frankly, as a Republican, as one who’s been involved with our party for a long time, sick and tired of what Steve King is saying.” Gross then went on to talk about the positive contributions that LEGAL immigrates make, and he said that some people disagree with King’s positions on immigration policy.
At the Nebraska event, King spoke about the need to simply enforce the immigration laws that are already on the books. That’s hardly a controversial position, but those who favor legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants already in the county took the opportunity to find something controversial in King’s remarks and use those words to discredit the western Iowa Congressman.
It appears that Gross went off on King without having a clue about the event at which he spoke or and without having heard King’s remarks in context. By publically chastening King, Gross gave the liberal media exactly what they wanted. It took little time for Gross’s rebuke of King to make its way to the Des Moines Register.
This is not the first time that Gross has used an interview to widen the divide between factions within the Republican Party. Following the 2008 presidential caucuses, Gross repeatedly attacked the state’s Christian conservative activists by describing Iowa to the New York Times as a “right-wing outpost.” After being stunned by Mike Huckabee’s sound defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2008 caucuses, Gross said, “We look like Camp Christian out here.”
Even though some may agree with his most recent critique of King, a large number of primary voters and conservative activists couldn’t disagree more. Gross’s comment not only hurts the Republican Party in Iowa and Congressman King, but it also hurts Gross himself. While it would be nearly impossible for Gross to win a Republican nomination these days, he remains active in major political campaigns in the state. His association with candidates could have a negative impact on those campaigns because Gross antagonizes the very people whose support these candidates need to win a primary.
Gross is entitled to his opinion, but it would be helpful if he could get his point across without undermining King in the media. There are thousands of ways one could have addressed the question that was asked by Dave Price, but unfortunately, Gross decided to give the media what they wanted – a public spat between Republicans. How unfortunate.
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