GOP Presidential Primary

Iowa kingmaker rips Ron Paul, hints at late endorsement in attempt to stop him

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) blasted Ron Paul’s foreign policy views Friday in an interview with The Hill and hinted that he might endorse someone else in order to try and stop Paul from winning the Iowa caucuses.

King, a conservative kingmaker in Iowa, said Paul’s foreign policy views are dangerous and have not received enough scrutiny. He said Paul once told him he wants to bring home all American troops.

“What Ron Paul supporters need to think about if they think they can elect him as president, a commander in chief can order all of the armed forces back to the United States,” he told The Hill. “That means no presence anywhere on the globe — our enemies can fill that vacuum with very little resources, and I am very troubled by that. 

“I don’t think that’s a worthwhile price to pay to get the good things Ron Paul talks about, like deficit reduction. I don’t think that’s worth sacrificing our national security.”

King, who has not endorsed, said that Paul’s strong position in the state might make him more likely to back another candidate. He spoke positively about both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

“I’m starting to see some shifts here that have caused me to take a look in such a way that maybe it becomes clearer to me of what my duty is,” he said in the Thursday night conversation. “Things are breaking here and that may lead me to coming to a decision.”

Michele Bachmann and King are close friends and he will appear at a lunch with her on Friday. But he said he won’t endorse the congresswoman at the event. “I just want to let the public know she’s a friend and I think a lot of her,” King said.

Bachmann’s campaign has struggled in recent weeks — she lost two top Iowa staffers this week, one of whom left for Paul’s campaign and the other who was fired after defending the first one’s integrity. She has slipped to sixth place in most recent polls.

King said that while their “personal friendship is a factor” in his decision-making process on an endorsements, that would not prevent him from endorsing someone else “if I came to a conviction” about another candidate. He also said he would try to have a private chat with Bachmann at the lunch. “We haven’t had a chance to shut out all the handlers and have a conversation,” he said.

He described Paul’s supporters as an “odd coalition of the constitutionalists, libertarians, the pacifists” and “the legalize marijuana groups” and said Paul has little appeal to most traditional Republicans.

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