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. Kenny K

    Since he believes that any of the candidates can beat Obama, he should just close his eyes and pick one.

    December 26, 2011 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Why do Republican candidates have such a lengthy list of butts to kiss before they get elected? Will they ever be able to keep track of the "pledges" they've made to non-elected people?

    December 26, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  3. Ben

    Steve King doesn't want the "Chinese knocking at our door" but is OK with the USA occupying every country in the world. What a moron. Steve King : Global Domination.

    December 26, 2011 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  4. Oldie in TampaBay

    how could the head & heart meet?? They are all idiots!

    December 26, 2011 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  5. Olaf Big

    Help position Santorum, Bachmann or Perry for the next election cycle? That's raging nonsense. Neither of these three would win if they were running against Fidel Castro. And all of them will be yesteryear's snow in three months.

    December 26, 2011 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  6. Nevis Mn

    King is a dangerous congressman. He as embarrassing to Iowans as Shelly is to Monnesotans.

    December 26, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. Raziel

    Brilliant. Steve King. Another brain trust..

    December 26, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  8. saftgek

    Why anyone would listen to Steve King, nevermind put stock in anything he says, demonstrates the mindset and ethics of so many voters in IA. Mr. King, at best, is an ultra-Right Wing zealot. His politics are anti-mainstream, suggesting he is – like most GOPers – cares not one whit about common people.

    I lived in Iowa from 2002 – 2009 and came to know the people – and Mr. King – quite well. The political picture in Iowa is depressingly and frightenly extremist. The state, overall, likes to be left alone in yesteryear – stuck in the past v. working toward the future.

    How sad for our country.

    December 27, 2011 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  9. Real Patriot

    Nothing says Christmas like shooting some defenseless birds with a CathloFacist like Rick Santorum....

    HoHoHo indeed.......

    December 27, 2011 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  10. Cody

    The answer is easy, he should endorse Obama.

    December 27, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  11. daves_not_here

    Um, right. All those words for "I don't want to pick the guy that doesn't end up winning"...

    December 27, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  12. Brian

    If Steve King's endorsement ends up being the GOP nominee it will most certainly guarantee an Obama victory, as his obnoxious statements and simpleton solutions to highly complex problems would lead me to say "anyone Steve King would choose for president would not be electable by independents." With redistricting in Iowa and a reasonably electable opponent in Mrs. Vilsack there is a good chance that 1 year from now King will be out of a job and working for Fox News.

    December 27, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  13. Mark from Canada

    He has admiration for Bachmann?? That says enough – as nuts as the ones he's not willing to endorse. Mind and heart can't come together when you are lacking both.

    December 27, 2011 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. M.K.

    This idiot is conflicted all right, he's also afflicted. He is afflicted with a bunch of crooks and liars that want to be President. They have the gall to make up non truths about Obama and every one of the Republicans that are running for the nomination is flawed worse than Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and George W. Bush combined. none of these brainless do dos can carry Obama's water.

    December 27, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  15. Logic in LA

    His lack of an endorsement says that none of these candidates are right in his views. If a Republican can't even select a candidate, how does the RNC think Americans will?
    On behalf of President Obama and Democrats- thank you.

    December 27, 2011 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  16. ExLonghorn

    So basically nobody has offered King a good enough deal to win his support. I get it. As soon as he said he liked Perry, I knew his opinion was questionable.

    December 27, 2011 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  17. Anonymous

    "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."

    I've seen pictures of this guy, and it's obvious that he possesses a head and feet. But based on his voting record and positions, it's also obvious that he does not have a heart.

    December 27, 2011 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  18. conoclast

    I kind of miss the good old days when voting was a simple case of chosing the lesser of two inconsequential evils. Nowadays it's like we're making decisions every day that are literally hinges-of-history. But while we bicker over nickels, dimes and egos, climate change never sleeps.

    December 27, 2011 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. Jace

    just endorse Obama already!!

    December 27, 2011 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  20. Anonymous

    If Perry, Santorum and Bachmann are his picks then he is NOT a kingmaker, he's just another passenger in the clown car. The three of them together aren't as smart as a box of rocks!

    December 27, 2011 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  21. Texas Doc

    Kingmaker? Clownmaker maybe, on a good day. GOP field = Clown Car.

    December 27, 2011 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  22. RP supporter

    I would ask him to reconsider his views on foreign policy, there's a whole lot of history to learn from.

    December 27, 2011 03:13 am at 3:13 am |

    Having a hard time picking a candidate to support = I want to support Ron Paul, but its so dangerous to support truth and logic.

    December 27, 2011 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  24. Brandon Kearney

    Regarding Newt Gingrich and Perry's negligence in becoming eligible for the VA primary and other things :::: To some extent, we seem to repeatedly encounter "dumb-ness" (for lack of a better non-word) from this group of Republican potential nominees. They seem to be middle tier candidates at best, the whole lot of them, and even the Republican voters seem to think so. Why else would they parade a new face out to be considered every other month or so?? I hate to think of the duo that they would put together of this group that they would have "US" consider for Pres and V.Pres, it would seem more like "Dumb and Dumber" based on actions and words reported thus far.

    December 27, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  25. ghostclown

    If the United States' military left the world stage, whichever country filled the void would demolish their economy as we are doing now and as the Soviet Union did before us. We should welcome a China that builds an empire in our absence: before long they would be indebted to us instead of the other way around.

    December 27, 2011 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
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