Potential Iowa GOP kingmaker conflicted about endorsing
December 26th, 2011
05:49 PM ET
2 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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. JP

    Defend the homeland, cut the excess, save buckets of money. Ron Paul 2012!!

    December 27, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Pravaa

    He is looking to have his head and heart come together? Nice. He is waiting for two things that the GOP does not have in them in the first place.

    December 27, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    A sampling of comments:

    "President Obama has an overwhelming number of positive issues on his record."

    "President Obama has an amazing record of accomplishments to run on."
    --------
    Fact is Obama's only "accomplishments" are those which pander to his liberal base, and they were going to vote for him anyway. Just preaching to the choir. He's done little, if anything, to win over independents and moderate republicans.

    December 27, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. Eye of Newt

    Its funny to think that conservative candidates "covet" this person's endorsement. Winning Iowa means you are an ugly, self-serving, hypocritical freak. Winning Iowa means tens of millions of decent Americans will never, ever vote for you.

    Including me!

    December 27, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Jeff in Virginia

    Only Dana Bash would call Steve King a "kingmaker". Go away with this partisan trash.

    December 27, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. GeorgeBfromOhio

    They call him the "King maker" and he endorsed Fred Thompson lol?! You can't make this stuff up folks.

    December 27, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. SoSad

    Kingmakes, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, he likes Bachmann and Santorium. CNN you got it wrong this time, he's more like Kingfish than Kingmaker. He'a legend in his own mind.

    December 27, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. quieteye

    Keith in Austin – If voters just vote base on a performance record, then obviously they should not vote at all for Just Say No Republicans.

    December 27, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Fact is Obama's only "accomplishments" are those which pander to his liberal base, and they were going to vote for him anyway.
    -----------
    Most conservative Americans found comfort upon hearing the news of Bin Laden's death.
    Most Wall Street execs are happy that the market has risen from the 7000 level when Obama was sworn in.
    Most Americans agree with the decision to honor the wishes of the Iraqis, as negotiated by George W. Bush Nov. 2008.
    Most Americans trust Democrats and Obama to best handle the economy and tax issues.
    More and more Americans have a growing distrust of the conservatives and the Republican Party as a whole.

    December 27, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. batjones

    Now let me understand correctly of what Mr. Santorum did this week. Mr. Santorum is arguably the strongest and least flexible proponent for Right-To-Life issues in the presidential campaign (innocent life of course). He wakes up on Sunday, Christmas morning, goes to church and listens to the pastor say that the Prince of Peace is born. But then the next morning, the same Mr. Santorum wakes up and says to himself – I should go out with a group of friends and kill a few birds for sport. Somehow the message of peace has not stuck with Mr. Santorum.

    December 27, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Killdeer

    @Fair is Fair. Please tell us for the record just what the republicans have done in the last couple of years to win over independants and moderate republicans? Obstructionism doesn't bring too many votes and that is what this independant has seen.

    December 27, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Harry Baxter

    It probably doesn't require great credentials to be a Kingmaker in Iowa. I've heard Steve King rant, and he strikes me as someone who couldn't get elected to Dogcatcher in a really important stat. As for people like Santorum and Bachmann, based on their current pronouncements, they couldn't survive the Primary for Dogcatcher in an important State. Santorum got beat by 17 points when he tried for reelection to the US Senate in PA, and that was back when he was saner than he is now.

    December 27, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. William

    King is a kook himself if his choice is between Santorum, Perry, and Bachman. How can the people of Iowa even see that this idiot has any creditility?

    December 27, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. jokerster

    Mr. King is a total JOKE!!! Wouldn't want him in my corner...or picking me....

    December 27, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Killdeer - Please tell us for the record just what the republicans have done in the last couple of years to win over independants and moderate republicans?
    ------------------------------------------------
    Obama and his radical leftwing policies have alienated large numbers of independents. Obamacare and a totally failed stimulus package just to name a few. BTW, Republicans have only controlled ONE part of the government out of THREE and that for only one year. The Democrats maintain control of the government, yet accept no responsibility for their actions and failed policies, continuously trying to blame others. It is called a complete lack of leadership at all levels: Obama, Reid, Pelosi.

    December 27, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. hypatia

    "Kingmaker"? More like dried up old thug.

    December 27, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Dan

    This guy is thinking the same thing many of the rest of the intelligent republicans are thinking: Barack Obama is a better choice than any of these nut jobs to lead this country.

    December 27, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Woman In California

    Hello Everyone:

    I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas.

    Now, back to politics. There is not a single republican running worth endorsing. End of story.

    December 27, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. tim

    he is a politician.......his only real internal conflict was whether he made a good enough deal with the devil for his soul

    December 27, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Truth somebody wrote:

    Killdeer – Please tell us for the record just what the republicans have done in the last couple of years to win over independants and moderate republicans?
    ----------------
    Obama and his radical leftwing policies have alienated large numbers of independents.
    =========================================
    Good answer from someone who has "No" answers.

    December 27, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Maine LIberal

    "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,"

    this mistake started 60 years ago when Eisenhower recognized the miltary industrial complex> welfare for corporations no jobs for the middle class.

    December 27, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Indy

    Still........Not one Republican supporter has been able to post any Republican accomplishments for the majority of the population.....hmmmmmmmmm imagine that ! The answer is there is no possible way to post any positive or accurate accomplishments from Republicans so sorry Keith in Austin I think your theory just got de bunked.All the best to you and your family in 2013 Keith ! You are always fun.

    December 27, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. time wont tell

    does it make a differance .. King is like the rest of the GOP .. he claims he admires Bachmann and that she is a friend ..but he wont endorse her unless she wins .. King a true Coward

    December 27, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. insight

    I live in Iowa. What trickle down... I will be enjoying voting Straight Democratic Ticket in 2012.

    December 27, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. this fence hurts

    He's only "conflicted" because the one he endorses might be a loser.

    If there was a clear front runner he wouldn't needd a back stiffener.

    December 27, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8