DeMint to Iowa amid denials of presidential run

Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) plans a trip to Iowa this spring, but not to pursue a run for president.

DeMint will attend an Iowa conference hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in March, a spokesman for the senator confirmed. The news was first reported by The Iowa Republican.

But the trip appears unrelated to pursuing a run for president in 2012, the motive for many Republicans who visit the state that hosts the first-in-the-nation nominating contest.

The Palmetto State conservative has adamantly denied interest in running for president, and while the crop of White House contenders continues to open the door to running, he's closed it when given the chance.

"No," DeMint said flatly on Wednesday when asked on CNN if he'd seek the Republican presidential nomination. "No, I'm not."

DeMint worked, via his Senate Conservatives Fund, to help elect a new crop of conservative and Tea Party-infused Republicans to the Senate. His rise to prominence sparked questions about how DeMint might best leverage his influence, either in a bid for a spot in Senate leadership or by running for president.

But the senator appears content to simply wield influence to drag the party to the right, a goal he ostensibly hopes to pursue through his trip to Iowa.