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)

    Teabaggers like King won't follow the GOBP Romney lockstep. The GOBP wingnut/teabagger/Ron Paul trainwreck implosion continues full speed ahead.

    December 27, 2011 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  2. fekt

    if it is not saying no to an obama proposal, republicans really don't know what to say or do. they have one strategy only. No to anything obama, regardless of it's merit or importance, and try to keep your mouth shut and not draw attention to yourself otherwise. can't you see how well it's been working out for the country so far.

    December 27, 2011 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  3. Luis

    the news representatives and universities missing the point, economy is not the principal preoccupation to solve by the new representative, plans are being presented by the government several times long ago, is more this problem has to be solve time ago, the real problem is what are going to do the new representative for make the congress work...that is the real problem in USA, the immigration and economic is only results from inaction from the congress .

    December 27, 2011 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  4. Tad Pole

    What this means is "I don't like any of them".. but they are going to make him pick one anyhow.

    December 27, 2011 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  5. BobAD

    Steve King will have a hard time staying in Congress less giving an endorsement or being called KINGMAKER.

    December 27, 2011 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  6. CraigM

    No mention of Romney or Cong. King's thought on him??

    December 27, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  7. Terry

    With all due respect to Congressman King, the GOP has failed miserably at fielding a viable team of candidates to represent the Republican Party's Presidential Option on the November 2012 Ballot. It is not too late to call a halt to this three ring circus, and convince others, like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, to consider entering the race. Not one of the current candidates can be elected in a National Election.

    December 27, 2011 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  8. taylor

    Big whoop!!

    December 27, 2011 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  9. cole

    Hmm, the GOP establishment is threatening unless I pick this guy, but the voters are wanting someone else, but I want to make sure I pick the guy who's going to win, so I can pick up some more political power. Well, and no one has offered enough yet...

    December 27, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  10. ZB

    If this guy had his way we would be living in the dark ages. he is a perfect symbol for just how far right the Republican/Tparty really is. If you went any further right then this guy you would fall off the end of the flat earth. Anybody this guy endorses is a guy you don't want to be president, then again thats true of all the Republican/Tparty candidates.

    December 27, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  11. willie floyd

    Can't blame him. If I was a Rep. (heaven forbid), I'd be in a quandry too.

    December 27, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  12. DixonIV

    Here is a bit of advice for our conflicted congressman...if you are voting republican...there is no good choice.

    December 27, 2011 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  13. diridi

    I saw him on CNN, but to my surprise, he sounded another idiot from GOP. I observed, that he does not know as to what he is saying. What a pity, GOP idiots.

    December 27, 2011 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  14. Anonymous

    The fearmongering about Ron Paul's perfectly rational and sensible foreign policy views is quite remarkable. Notice how anytime a politician mentions ending or reducing American expansionism and global military adventurism, the attacks are quick, loud and nonsensical. This should tell you plenty about how the military-industrial complex dominates US politics. This is where the neocons plot and dream their blood-soaked dreams of death and domination. The ne(cr)ocons are a deathcult trying to drag the US and world down with it,

    December 27, 2011 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  15. WDM Girl

    Only Steve King and CNN think he's a Kingmaker..other than the right wing nuts in his District,most people in Iowa think he is an embarrassment to our state and hope redistributing means he disappears.

    December 27, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  16. Solid

    ROFL. All these comments really make me hopeful that people aren't completely retarded in this country. WTG CNN COMMENT CREW!!

    December 27, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  17. Publius Novus

    Sometimes people can't make up their minds because they are presented with an embarassment of riches. Unfortunately for the Republicans, that isn't the case this cycle. They must choose the least of seven evils.

    December 27, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  18. maryd

    King is an idiot, I am from Iowa.. he is an embarassment. But I get his problem – there are way too many nutcases running, hard to pick the biggest nutjob.

    December 27, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Indy

    Keith in Austin

    Independents will determine the winner and unfortunately for Obama, historically, they vote on a Candidate's RECORD and not political grandstanding or vicious hyperbole!

    Republicans only record is tanking the economy and taking everyone with them regardless of the damage to the entire country and Independents are not as stupid as you think to fall for the Republican scheme to get back in the Whitehouse. It is not as easy as you think,people are much smarter then you give them credit for.

    December 27, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Keith in Austin wrote [May God Bless, Amen]

    When all the dust settles, the mere fact that Obama has no positive record to run on will lead to his demise! His ongoing blame games and vitriolic attempts to divide our Nation via social class will NOT wash among Independent Voters. Clearly, the electorate is split.
    President Obama has an overwhelming number of positive issues on his record. President Obama is not playing any blame games, nor is he the source of the political vitriol that you hear on FOX News. For starters, nearly of the people that you hear on FOX News are conservatives. They are the ones for the past 3 years who have been telling you [without being specific with quotes] that President Obama is divisive. As far as any blame game goes, I think the House Republicans settled that issue last week as to what is most wrong with Congress today.

    December 27, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. informed voter

    To address the ignorant "Keith in Austin": President Obama has an amazing record of accomplishments to run on. He averted a new depression, saved the American auto industry, repealed DADT, killed OBL, the stock market is back to where it was before the Bush error, the list goes on and on and on. All this achieved without the help of the most hostile Congress is history. President Obama will accomplish even more in his second term. My whole family of hard working, tax paying, highly educated, top end earners, will be voting for Obama, again, in 2012.

    December 27, 2011 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  22. Solid

    In honor of 2012's potential GOP candidates, I vote we start spelling the word 'joke' like 'gope'. "You've got to be goping me!"

    December 27, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    It is a week out from the caucuses. If Rep. King had leadership skills enough to make his own decisions, then he already would have announced his choice of endorsement, or lack of a choice. But like most conservatives [with a few exceptions like Ron Paul] he lacks the courage to speak his own mind and take responsibility for it. Instead, King prefers to be a mouthpiece for the money and special interests funding his own campaigns.

    December 27, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. blf83

    King's endorsement would be an albatross around any candidate's neck. King, himself, is a joke and as crazy as Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry combined.

    December 27, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. Kris

    Steve King is NOT a king maker in Iowa; far from it. As an Iowan who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats for Congress in the past, Steve King appeals to a small, vocal MINORITY centered in NW Iowa. Many of us are embarrassed by King, and he has the fight of his career coming up now that Iowa has been redistricted and his opponent is Christie Vilsack.

    December 27, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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