2016 hopefuls heading to Iowa

A group of Republicans will head to Iowa in January for a “Freedom Summit” that could be the launching point for their bids to be the Republican presidential nominee.

ADVERTISEMENT
The conservative group Citizens United and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the immigration hardliner who has floated himself as a potential presidential candidate in the past, are co-hosting the event in Des Moines on Jan. 24.

The summit will feature speeches from Republicans with serious presidential ambitions, like Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzFunding bill rejected as shutdown nears Cruz: Clinton 'tired' and 'formulaic' during debate The Trail 2016: Fight night MORE (Tex.), former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), and former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Other Republicans in attendance may not have the obvious ambitions of that group, but will likely be interested to find out where they stand among conservative heavyweights. These include Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeSenators express 'grave concerns' about ObamaCare 'bailout' Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears Shutdown risk grows over Flint MORE (Utah), Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnOvernight Healthcare: Mylan CEO faces bipartisan outrage over EpiPen pricing House panel votes to hold fetal tissue company in contempt Top Dem to GOP leaders: Halt panel's plan to charge firm tied to Planned Parenthood MORE (Tenn.), and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who has been mentioned by some as a 2016 dark horse. 

“Midterm elections gave our country a dramatic shift in possibilities,” King said in a statement. “It is exactly the right time to bring our national leaders to Iowa to hear them cast a conservative vision for our Nation’s future.”

Potential presidential candidates from both parties lavish attention on Iowa and will make frequent visits to the Hawkeye State during the 2016 campaign cycle, as the state holds outsized influence on the nominating process with its first-in-the-nation caucus.

A candidate’s performance at the caucus can make or break a run for the presidency — in 2008 it launched President Obama onto the scene, and in 2012 it flushed Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) from the field before his campaign ever really started.

“Iowa’s First in the Nation status has created an informed, engaged, and active electorate all eager to begin the evaluation process of potential leaders of the free world,” King continued. “The Iowa Freedom Summit will further energize conservatives and begin the caucus season in earnest.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has also spent a great deal of time in the state, and participated in King’s annual pheasant hunt, which has a history of attracting GOP presidential contenders.