Washington Bureau

08.10.13

Steve King Plays Coy On Presidential Ambitions

Iowa congressman Steve King sparked rumors of a possible run for President in 2016 by announcing a visit to South Carolina earlier this week. 

King, a strident social conservative who is beloved by Republicans in his home base of western Iowa, didn't rule out a possible run for the Oval Office in an interview with the Daily Beast on Saturday. The six term congressman jokingly complained that he was going to Palmetto State just to get some attention. "Whenever anybody that is elected to the Congress, House or the Senate, comes to Iowa it starts rumors, except for me" said King. "I keep coming back to Iowa and not starting any rumors."

The Iowa Republican said he was only going because he has "friends down there and they invited me in the past and it worked out schedulewise." However, King made clear that he wasn't just going to South Carolina "to reconnect" but also to "start new friendships."

It's unlikely that King will run for President. He has long flirted with runs for higher office before and any campaign would jeopardize his role as one of the crucial kingmakers in the 2016 Iowa caucuses. But the visit also allows King to change the subject from his controversial comments about drug smuggling illegal immigrants with "calves like cantaloupes." King also made an unprompted defense of those statements saying Iowans were "universal in their support" for him.