Okoboji, Iowa — Iowa kingmaker Rep. Steve King thinks that if Rick Perry announces a run Saturday in South Carolina, it will hurt his chances in Iowa.
“If he had picked any other day in the entire calendar, it would have helped him more in Iowa,” King tells National Review Online. “It’s clear that [Perry] selected the date and time to do his utmost to compete directly with the Iowa straw poll. If he wanted to be in the race here …. all he had to do was enter in the race here. He could have been on the ballot if he had just said so.”
Speculating about the outcome at Ames, King says that he could see Ron Paul doing far better than expected, particularly if turnout is low.
“The Ron Paul network here is stronger than I think the media has reported,” King observes. “He’s been working in thes tate a long time. He has a core of loyal followers. If there is no expectation that Ron Paul will do well in the straw poll, that’ll be a surprise.”
Herman Cain, King says, “started out strong, and seemed to not be able to maintain that momentum.” Rick Santorum has “done a lot of the right things” but it remains an “open question” whether his supporters are dedicated enough to make the trek out to Ames. Tim Pawlenty has the most extensive organization, with the possible exception of Paul, but King isn’t sure if that organization has generated enough momentum for Pawlenty.
“It seems that all in these cases that I’ve talked about that the energy hasn’t been to the level that I would expect it to be at this point,” King muses.
It’s a different story for Michele Bachmann, whom King calls a “good friend.”
“I don’t know that she would be in the top three from an organizational standpoint,” King says. “From an energy standpoint, I think that she has the most momentum, has generated the most spark. She’s poised to have a successful day.”
King says his own endorsement won’t occur sooner than September.
“I just want my head and my heart to come together in the same candidate, and then I can jump in with both feet,” he says.
Despite his friendship with Bachmann, King says he is open to endorsing a different candidate.
“Tom Tancredo is also a very close friend,” he points out. “I didn’t endorse him when he ran for president four years ago.“