Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 8, 2014.
Tom Williams—AP
January 20, 2015 7:36 PM EST

President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech was still hours away from being delivered when it created a headache for likely Republican presidential candidates.

In a tweet posted around 6 p.m., Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who takes a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, called one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests “a deportable.”

King was referring to Ana Zamora, a 21-year-old college senior from Dallas who benefited from Obama’s 2012 executive order allowing people brought to the United States illegally as children to defer deportation. That program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, upset many congressional Republicans, who voted narrowly on a symbolic effort to overturn it last week, but it is widely popular among Latino voters.

It’s hardly unusual for King to make controversial statements about immigration, but the timing is trickier. On Saturday, he’ll be hosting a number of likely Republican presidential candidates at the Iowa Freedom Summit, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina.

They should expect to be asked about the phrase “a deportable” when they arrive in Iowa

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