Potential Iowa GOP kingmaker conflicted about endorsing
December 26th, 2011
05:49 PM ET
6 years ago

Potential Iowa GOP kingmaker conflicted about endorsing

Washington (CNN) - Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King, whose support is coveted by Republican presidential candidates, said he hoped to endorse one of them months ago. But like many other Iowa Republican voters, he is having a hard time picking a horse in this Republican field.

"I've said all along I want my head and my heart to come together, and when that happens I'll jump in with both feet. That just hasn't happened yet," King told CNN.

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King spoke by phone from his car as he was arriving for a hunting outing with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania – someone he calls a good friend, but not a candidate he's ready to endorse for president.

The Iowa Republican is a prominent conservative with rock solid credentials. Although Iowa voters are known for their independence, several Iowa Republican operatives tell CNN King's endorsement would be a big boon to any GOP candidate.

But King spoke with a mixture of bewilderment and lament about his inability to make a decision about which candidate to support. He even said he may change his mind and not endorse anyone at all.

"I have not come to the conviction where I can throw my energy behind a single candidate," said King.

Four years ago, King endorsed Fred Thompson, who was lagging behind but then went on to come in third in the Iowa caucuses.

King says this year he very much likes three of the lower tier candidates: Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann is one of King's closest friends and political allies in Congress and someone he says he has "great respect for." He made clear one issue he is weighing is whether to back one of these candidates who may not be viable this year, but could be someone he could help position for the next presidential election.

When it comes to Iowa's frontrunners, King had praise for former Speaker Newt Gingrich's economic plans, but called his immigration policies "troubling."

King is one of the biggest hardliners in Congress when it comes to illegal immigration, and Gingrich supports a path to legality for some illegal immigrants.

King said that's not a "deal breaker" but said it does "make it harder" to endorse Gingrich.

The Iowa Republican had the harshest words for his congressional colleague, Ron Paul – particularly on the issue of foreign policy.

King recalled asking Paul what he would do with the military as commander in chief, and said Paul effectively answered that he would bring U.S. armed forces serving overseas back home.

"I do not want the Chinese knocking at our door, who would fill the power vacuum, as would the Russians, as would anybody else out there with aspirations. I think that would dramatically upset the balance of power in the world and would be something that could go down in history as one of the greatest mistakes this country would have potentially ever made," said King.

With little more than a week until the Iowa caucuses, King is well aware that time is running out for him to endorse, and if he does, for it to have an impact.

"I just haven't gotten to the point where I am convinced that one is so much better than the others and it's different for me than it is for someone going to the caucus to vote. They can put their vote up and walk away," King told CNN.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Steve King
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. sidneyhop

    Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate that truly represents the people!!!

    The status quo, mainstream political machines have played their hands OVER and OVER and OVER again and the people end up loosing EVERY time!

    December 26, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Less than 10 days until the primary. Shows you how poor the Republican selection is this year.

    December 26, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. m

    It will be extremely difficult for King to accomplish that acrobatic feat since his head is usually up his you know what.

    December 26, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. Joe Mica

    Why not let Russia and China pick up the tab for policing and nation building the Middle East? Balance of power? What has that balance gotten us? Neverending trade deficits. Record budget deficits. If hawks like King came with prosperity, I could sympathize however many hundreds of thousands he has helped to kill. Instead of prosperity, we find growing unemployment, underemployment, and the raises going to paper pushers working for the Fed. It used to be working for the government was a "public service". Less pay, more security. Now they have "More pay, death squad security". For me, it is Ron Paul or bust. Just the fact that this "kingmaker" can't pick from the one of two politicians that polls evenly with Obama (Ron Paul, Mitt Romney) proves he is a nonfactor in this race.

    December 26, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. grunk

    Here's how this works, King, CNN, whoever:

    Ron Paul supporter here

    You better kill us in Iowa.

    Now and with extreme prejudice.

    If you don't, political revenge will be on our minds, our hearts and our wallets.

    Now and with extreme prejudice.

    December 26, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. Tom

    Conflicted? The candidates he leans toward and the candidates he's not so keen on are all a bunch of crazies.

    December 26, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  7. Jason

    I lived in Steve's district and his endorsement would be a reason NOT to vote for a candidate. Steve believes he knows everything and everyone else is wrong, even when shown evidence that he or his facts are wrong. Steve believes that only the wealthy should have access to anything and that the poor are the scourge of our population. Just look at his district. It is a haves and have-nots, with almost nothing in between. He may act humble in front of the cameras, but when in private, he is bought and paid for and it shows.

    December 26, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. Jimm

    King is a joke. What has he done for his district? Where are the jobs? He has been in congress for decades, what has he done?

    December 26, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  9. Mark

    If Rep. King is true to himself he wont back any of these bafoons. The only one who makes any sense is Ron Paul but,
    Rep. King seems like he dosn't like some of his ideas about what to do with the military. So back nobody Mr King.
    In the Va. primary only Paul and Romney managed to get the papaerwork right to even be on the ballot, Gingrich and Perry couldn't get enough signatures which is funny because Mr gingrich LIVES in Va. and Mr Perry is just too unorganized. The others just didn't try so no, don't back ANY of them.

    December 26, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. Keith in Austin

    So now our A.G."Gun Runner" Eric Holder stopped South Carolina's voter ID law! Now millions of illegal immigrants, Felons and most-likely, dead people are free to vote for Barry and Liberal Democrats! What a great country the Obamanation has become!

    December 26, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. A former republican

    I don't envy King in trying to pick one of these republican clowns for anything.

    December 26, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    this is the same guy that made the comment if Obama became president then the Muslims would be "dancing in the streets" which of course means he's LOONEY TUNES! No wonder Perry, Santorum, or Bachmann would like to have his backing. Birds of a feather do indeed flock together.

    December 26, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. Silence Dogood

    Go Christy Vilsack. See you next November...

    December 26, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. MS

    This guy is nearly as big of crackpot as those lower tier candidates that he has "great respect for". His endorsement is highly overrated as it will only go to someone that (thankfully) has been completely discounted by the mainstream electorate. Why this guy is able to hold his seat is an embarrassment to Iowa.

    December 26, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  15. stevetall

    As an Iowan myself, I can say without hesitation that Steve King has a real conflict. He'll have a tough time getting his head and his heart together because he has no heart and his head is pretty mushy. Get back to work Steve, and I don't mean the crap you've been doing in Washington. Do something that's good for all Americans, not just the ones who fit into your little, religious, socially retarded, 1950s good-old-days, nut-job box!

    December 26, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Kings are good if you're playing checkers. Otherwise, not so much.

    December 26, 2011 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  17. Valerie from Raleigh

    Are the voters in Iowa typical of Republican voters at large? This mostly rural state does not appear to reflect the thinking of Republicans in general. How did Iowa receive this first-state position and is this set in stone?

    December 26, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  18. Noodle Nose Johnson

    "Four years ago, King endorsed Fred Thompson, who was lagging behind but then went on to come in third in the Iowa caucuses."

    Wow, quite the 'king maker'.

    December 26, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. Charlie from the North

    Could it be that maybe he is just a little embarrassed by whats left of his party now that the Tea-Party has taken it over? Every election year there used to be at least a few reasonable Republicans with a chance of winning. Sometimes they would win like with Eisenhower sometimes they would lose, like John Anderson, but at least they were there. Who is the voice of reason now? Newt? Mitt? Michelle Bauchman? They all make Ronald Reagan look like FDR and I am not trying to flatter Ronald Reagan by saying so.

    December 26, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. Seattle Sue

    What a radical creep.

    December 26, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  21. deuce

    Oh, please. He's just waiting to see which way the winds are blowing before he comes out with a real opinion. He's no different than every other opportunistic piece of crap involved in our political process.

    And of COURSE he's worried about Ron Paul. Someone that isn't a warmonger? With our trillion dollar military-industrial complex to keep sucking off the teat of the American taxpayer? Don't they know that there's money to be made...oops, I mean 'terrorists to fight'!

    You want any real change in this country, vote Ron Paul. You want more of the same old crap, vote anyone else. It's that simple...

    I don't agree with everything Ron Paul stands for, but I'll tell you this: I know he has the sack to stand up to the establishment. Neither Newt, Michele, both Ricks, or Mitt are gonna do that, they'll follow their marching orders just like every other modern President.

    Choose Paul, or choose revolution. It's coming, believe me, it's coming.

    December 26, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  22. Thomas

    I do not want the Chinese knocking at our door, who would fill the power vacuum, as would the Russians, as would anybody else out there with aspirations. I think that would dramatically upset the balance of power in the world and would be something that could go down in history as one of the greatest mistakes this country would have potentially ever made," said King.

    Now we know who writes all of Donald Trumps press releases .I thought Steve King wrote Cojo and the Stand .

    December 26, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. J.V.Hodgson

    So many candidiates, so many kingmakers In Iowa and elsewhere makes me wonder if us puny voters matter at all.
    I just think we shouls let the caucus vote and give us all a rest about Iowa over Xmas and new year.

    December 26, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. west

    How is this dude a King maker, the republicans will no longer be a party this coming year.

    December 26, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. Tim

    He likes Michelle Bachmann? Why does he have credibility if that is what he is thinking. Just choose Romney, all the others are completely unelectable.

    December 26, 2011 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
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