Iowa Rep. Steve King on Monday endorsed Ted Cruz, a coup for the Texas senator who is seeking to gain ground with the first-in-the-nation caucus state’s conservative activists, with whom King is deeply influential.
He made the announcement at a press conference in Iowa and in a video released on Twitter, a move that gives Cruz momentum in the battle to consolidate the conservative base in the state even as he currently trails other candidates in the polls.
“I believe Ted Cruz is the candidate that’s the answer to my prayers,” King said. “A candidate whom God will use to restore the soul of America.”
The endorsement of Ted Cruz’s presidential candidacy by Rep. Steve King (Iowa) is likely to strengthen the Republican senator’s case to Iowa voters ahead of that state’s first-in-the-nation vote, on Feb. 1.
“I’m all the way in supporting Ted Cruz for president,” said King, who represents Republican-rich western Iowa in Congress. “Ted Cruz understands that we have to secure our border and restore the rule of law.”
Cruz beat King to his own announcement, tweeting out an endorsement video as the congressman’s address got underway.
“I am beyond honored to receive Congressman @SteveKingIA‘s endorsement,” he tweeted.
King, an immigration hardliner who did not endorse in 2012 and in 2008 was a last-minute backer of the late Fred Thompson’s failed bid, has been heavily courted this cycle by candidates vying to emerge as a conservative standard-bearer. They see King as a gatekeeper to the state’s grassroots, particularly in his home base of northwest Iowa, which is particularly conservative.
But he has long been thought to favor Cruz, and the senator’s campaign expected the endorsement. King’s son is involved in a super PAC that backs the senator, and the two have appeared together frequently at events in Iowa. Last week, as Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio tussled about the Texas senator’s record on immigration, King came to Cruz’s defense, saying he believed his record was sufficiently conservative, a point he reiterated on Monday.
At the press conference, King made the same case that Cruz frequently makes to potential supporters and donors: that the senator can energize Christian conservatives and bring together a coalition that also includes libertarians and other grassroots activists, and that Cruz — with the most cash on hand of any Republican in the field — has the money to go the distance.
“Victory requires that he energize Christian conservatives for large turnout,” King said. “Some said that didn’t happen four years ago … we can’t have that again. [The candidate has] got to be able to inspire Christian conservatives.”
Cruz, for his part, has been ramping up his organizing in the state, embarking on an effort to tap a supportive pastor in each of Iowa’s 99 counties and pledging that he will hit each county — known as the “Full Grassley,” for an activity undertaken by Iowa’s senior senator — by the time the caucuses hit on Feb. 1.
Cruz has already secured the support of radio host Steve Deace, another prominent voice among the state’s conservatives.
“I think it absolutely moves the dial on the ground,” cheered Deace in a phone call, predicting that King’s endorsement “all but locks up” a top-three finish in Iowa for Cruz. “The timing of it, in advance of the [Vander Plaats] event this weekend, is pretty much perfect for Cruz.”
Later this week, Cruz and others will attend a cattle call hosted by prominent social conservative Bob Vander Plaats, whose pending endorsement, along with King’s is, thought to have the most sway over Iowa conservative activists.
Speaking of the Vander Plaats:
“He has a very faithful grassroots following,” longtime Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats told the National Review in late October. “And these are the people that show up on caucus night. They take politics, these elections, very seriously, and so they respect Steve King’s voice a lot.”
King’s endorsement is timely and BIG! By releasing the endorsement now, Cruz gets a bump prior to the holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Afterall, it’s during this time when voters usually take a break and stop paying less attention to politics, as they are more involved with family.
Congressman Steve King’s endorsement not only is a big win to sway Iowa conservatives, it is a boost in organization and “boots on the ground” as well. King is the face of Iowa’s ideological right and is a major player in western Iowa, where LOTS of Republicans live. King is a trusted conservative with real organization. Between King’s organization and Cruz’s own fundraising ability, Sen. Cruz is well positioned to win the Iowa Caucus on February 1st, 2016. King’s grassroots activists or ground forces will be the gamechanger for Cruz in Iowa. If I may add, Rep. Steve King, I believe like you, that Cruz is our anwers to our prayers as well. I also believe he will restore this great country to a nation of laws and it will return to the “shining city upon a hill”.
Written by Nancy Hayes
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