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Influential Iowa Rep. Steve King has officially endorsed Ted Cruz for president, giving the GOP Texas senator a boost ahead of February’s Iowa caucuses.

“Cruz has a proven record of standing up to both Democrats and Republicans to put the American people first, and I believe he is the only one who can unite conservatives around his campaign and build the organization needed to beat Hillary Clinton,” King said in a statement put out by the Cruz campaign.

{mosads}“With Ted Cruz, conservatives no longer have to accept a Republican nominee who doesn’t truly share our values.”

King is a key figure in Iowa conservative circles, hosting the annual “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Des Moines that serves as a cattle call for presidential hopefuls. The endorsement isn’t entirely surprising considering King’s family ties — his son works for a super-PAC that backs Cruz.

King is also known for a hardline stance on immigration and drew criticism in 2013 for saying that many immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

The longtime Iowa congressman specifically praised Cruz’s foreign policy chops as candidates continue to lay out their foreign policy platforms in light of last week’s terror attacks in France.

“He understands that we need to defeat Islamic jihad, the ideology of it, not just militarily, but the culture of it,” King said in a video released by the campaign.

“I’m all the way in supporting Ted Cruz for president.”

Cruz’s stock in Iowa has improved over the past few months and he currently sits at fourth place, just behind Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) with 12 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average.

—Updated at 11:50 a.m.

Tags Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Ted Cruz

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