Rep. Steve King May Stay Neutral in Iowa Caucuses

Wednesday, 21 Dec 2011 01:03 PM

By Dan Weil

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As one of the most influential conservatives in Iowa, GOP Rep. Steve King represents a prized endorsement for any of the presidential candidates. But there’s a good chance he won’t publicly back any of the candidates before the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses, King told The Hill Tuesday.

That represents a change for the northwestern Iowa heavyweight, who long had planned to give one of the aspirants his blessing in September or October. “I will not make a decision unless I come to a conviction, and that’s what it needs to be,” he said. “It can’t just be going shopping and picking an attractive package off the shelf. It’s got to be a conviction.”

The five-term congressman is close to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, so many politicos had expected him to give her the nod. But that’s clearly not going to happen imminently.

“I haven’t made up my mind, I haven’t made a decision,” King said. “I’m still talking to the candidates, still looking, and watching the field kind of sort itself a little bit, which is helpful.”

King draws strong affection from Iowa’s social and religious conservatives. More than 60 percent of Iowa GOP caucus participants identify themselves as evangelical Christian. So they’re a crucial voting bloc, but haven’t united behind a single candidate.

On Tuesday, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received the endorsements of two influential conservatives in the Hawkeye State -- Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader group, and Iowa Family Policy Center head Chuck Hurley.

If King refrains from an endorsement, social/religious voters will likely be split between Santorum, Bachmann, and the other conservative candidates. That would create an opportunity for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul to post strong finishes.



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