The endorsement of Iowa congressman Steve King is one of the most coveted in the GOP presidential election. A common assumption among political watchers is that King will endorse his good friend Michele Bachmann. They are very close allies in the U.S. House. However, King says friendship will not play a role in his decision.
“Michele Bachmann is a good friend and a close friend and I have great respect for all of the skills that she brings to the table,” King told TheIowaRepublican.com. “Still, this is about the President of the United States. It’s not about friendship. So, as tough as the decision will be to make, I have to do the right thing that I think is right for the country. “
King faced a similar dilemma four years ago. His good friend and fellow congressman Tom Tancredo lobbied hard for King’s endorsement. Instead, he opted to support former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson. King did not make the decision until a couple of weeks before the 2008 Iowa Caucus. Although there is no doubt King’s support helped Thompson, it was too late to secure a top two finish. King plans to make his decision earlier in this cycle.
King has partnered with South Carolina senator Jim DeMint to arrange a series of presidential forums in the early caucus and primary states. One takes place this Monday in DeMint’s home state. King says he and DeMint are serving as “constitutional conservative bookends to essentially frame this presidential debate and keep the candidates within the parameters of constitutional principles”.
For candidates who want Steve King’s support, along with his large conservative following across the state, they need to impress the Iowa congressman this Monday. “I have to get to the other side of that before I can make a decision,” King said. “Part of this is, having a level of legitimacy to be able to ask questions of these candidates and not have them viewed as loaded questions or comments about them that are designed to influence the nomination process versus the information.”
Even though he has only been in the race for two and a half weeks, Iowa and national polls show Rick Perry is the candidate to beat. Steve King is not surprised by Perry’s rapid emergence and feels there is plenty of time for the others to catch him.
“I’m not necessarily surprised because America is always looking for, who is the other candidate, somebody that is not in the race,” King said. “They always think that there is somebody out there who is more presidential. He’s caught the crest and he’s sitting there now. Now, people start to look at his record. It’s hard for Rick Perry now to gain any more votes. His job is going to be to hold the support that he has while Mitt Romney is going to be pushing on him and Michele Bachmann, especially. “
King’s endorsement of Fred Thompson in 2007 included the full weight of his political organization. Thompson would not have bested John McCain for third place in Iowa without King’s help. The candidate that receives access to King’s large and loyal network of backers gains a tremendous advantage over the rest of the field.
First, they have to earn the endorsement. It is a decision Steve King is not taking lightly. “I want to encourage the process and then I want to encourage the one I think will make the best president.”
Tom Tancredo and Steve King remain very good friends despite the 2007 race. At that point, Tancredo was not a legitimate contender. Michele Bachmann is one of the frontrunners. She won the Ames Straw Poll and ranked in the top two in every Iowa poll since she entered the race. If King chooses another candidate, it would be a huge setback to her candidacy. Either way, Steve King’s endorsement will make a large impact on the GOP presidential race.
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