AMES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she was referring to a “very small, minute population” of Iowans when she told a Republican fundraiser last month that “the liberals are unhinged."

Asked at her weekly news conference about the remark she made at her first Harvest Festival fundraiser, Reynolds said she was triggered by social media comments directed at a photo of two of her grandsons playing soccer.

Reynolds did not quote the posts verbatim but told reporters they were “something to the effect that I hope they’re drinking the water and they have detrimental outcomes, and I’m being really very nice in how I’m describing what some of those posts were.”

The governor said the incident illustrated that “there is no civil discourse left and it is really sad” when critics go after a child to score political points. “To me, that unhinged, that’s over the top, and they don’t deserve it,” she said.

“I signed up for this. You can come at me all you want. I’m tough, I know what this job entails and I guess in some sense my family did, too, but not to that extent,” said Reynolds, who noted she is protective of her family time because it’s a big part of her life that keeps her grounded.

“We ought to be able to talk about ideas, we ought to be able to debate ideas because that’s how you get to consensus and that’s how you move this country forward and that’s how you move this state forward,” the Republican governor said. “We do a better job of it in Iowa. We do. But it is just so vitriol and vicious right now and I hope at some point we can get back to a discussion.”

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