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Rep. Steve King pauses when asked if a Muslim American, an Italian American, and a German American are equal: 'They contribute differently'

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) refused to back down from his controversial tweet declaring "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," despite being given ample opportunity to do so Monday morning on CNN's New Day. "What did you mean?" CNN's Chris Cuomo asked King. "I meant exactly what I said," King said, explaining that keeping the birth rate up is the best way to "strengthen your culture" and "way of life." He seemed baffled as to why "half the liberals" got up and left the room when he gave a speech on the topic over the weekend.

"Congressman, if you suggest that somebody's else's babies shouldn't be welcomed in a country, you seem inherently divisive. That's why I keep asking you, what was your intention with this?" Cuomo said. But King insisted he'd never said that, and that he was simply "a champion for Western civilization" who took issue with immigrants' refusal to assimilate.

Cuomo tried again. "Either a Muslim American, an Italian American, an Irish-Scotch-German American — which is what your roots are — either those are all equal things or they are not. What is your answer?" Cuomo asked. King paused. "They contribute differently to our culture and civilization," King said, noting Muslim extremists.

When Cuomo asked King to clarify once more, King offered a bit more explanation. "Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will. That's just a statistical fact," King said, insisting "it's about culture," not race.

Watch the interview below. Becca Stanek