Here’s the transcript of Steve King’s appearance on Face the Nation yesterday. You’ll notice something missing: Iowa.
In full-pundit mode, Congressman King only has one fleeting mention of the state. He doesn’t discuss what his constituents are looking for in a presidential candidate, he doesn’t discuss the work he’s doing to help families in the 4th Congressional District, and he fails to mention the work he’s doing in Washington on their behalf.
Face the Nation, 12/11/11
SCHIEFFER: You know you may think you’ve been seeing a lot of Republican candidates but not as many as the Iowa Republican congressman Steve King. He has been campaigning with about all of them as they seek his support in next month’s caucus. Congressman King is also joining us this morning from Des Moines.
Well, congressman you were there last night. Who do you think won that debate?
KING: I could not pick a winner, Bob. I walked in there and I looked at all the candidates on the stage and I kind of checked them mentally and I decided I liked them all. When the debate was over, I liked them all more.
I did expect that it would be a political king of the hill type of a debate with Newt Gingrich on top of the hill and Romney fairly high up in the polls. And I thought the shots would come from the wings on them. Some of that happened. And we’ll see how much that resonates as this discussion goes through Iowans.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, you had said at kind of the beginning of all of this that you did plan to give an endorsement to someone. But this week you told The Washington Post, and I think these are your words, “no full spectrum conservative has emerged in the field.” Does that mean you may not endorse?
KING: Well, it doesn’t mean they’re not out there. It’s the emergence definition is the question. And I’ll just be, you know, straight honest with you on what’s going on inside of me. And that is I have to come to a conviction. Just like these candidates come to a conviction to run for president, I need to come to a conviction to get fully behind a single candidate.
And so that’s what’s holding me back. I hope to get there. And I will tell you that there’s another breadth of this that I think needs to be addressed. And that is the big picture of America’s economic situation. The size and the scope of our debt. What we’re going to do about that.
Can one of these candidates actually sell the tough medicine that we’re going to have to take to get this country fixed before we go off the cliff? And then will they be able to sell that to the American people so that that mandate can actually get this done? I hope that we can get to that point before this is over, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Could you see yourself endorsing Michele Bachmann? I mean, I would guess she’s conservative enough for you.
KING: Michele and I fit right down the same issue after issue. We’ve worked together on repealing “Obama-care.” I’m one of the first to sign on her repeal Dodd-Frank legislation. There are many things we’ve done together. And the answer to that is, yes, yes, but I haven’t come to the conviction. And so that’s what holds me back, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you the question that I just asked Ms. Bachmann. And that is, why is Romney having such a hard time? He has a great resume as a businessman and all of that. He’s obviously a good, strong person of good character.
And yet there just seems to be a large segment of the Republican Party that, for want of a better phrase, just doesn’t like him. Why do you think that is?
KING: You know, that’s a hard thing to measure. I just — I’ve watched Mitt Romney in the state now for about five years. He built a good organization in this state four years ago and a good media organization. That hasn’t happened to the extent this year.
But I think Mitt Romney was unjustly marked down for his religion last time. I hope that’s not happening this time. He’s a better candidate this time than he was four years ago.
And but sometimes you can measure all the pieces, where they are on issues and how they are on debate. And the list of those things goes on. But sometimes it’s just an intangible. And I don’t know that Iowans have warmed up to him in the fashion that one would think given his positions on the issues.
SCHIEFFER: And what about the…
KING: He has a great family too, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Yes. And, well, what about Newt Gingrich? He does carry some baggage. Even Newt Gingrich would concede that. Could it drag down the party if he got the nomination?
KING: Well, there is that risk. But Newt has shown himself to be very, very strong in these debates. And I think that’s the foundation of the strength that he has in the polls. And then you’ll see some things come out that are just unpredictable.
His statement on the Palestinian question, which I generally agree with, by the way, was a surprise. It was unpredictable and it was probably unnecessary in the scope of this campaign. Same with immigration.
So you wonder what kind of discipline he might have, and — but he has clearly hands down the one who has got the most breadth, the most depth, and the most understanding of policy, and the most solutions to put forward.
But it’s risky to go forward in the fashion that he has. And when you’re blazing a trail when you’re on top of the polls that tends to be a high liability.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that somebody else might get into the race? And in fact, would you want anyone else to get into the race at this point.
KING: You know, if I knew who that was, I could answer that question a little better. But I just don’t know at this point. If there’s someone who emerges that could actually sweep this field and unify Republicans and is a constitutional conservative, I think that could be a good thing.
Chris Christie, for example, is one of those people. But he has made it clear he’s not running. So if there’s another name out there, I might be able to answer that question a little more, with a little better information.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I hope we’ll talk to you again before we get to the Iowa Caucuses. And we will be…
KING: Thank you, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: … back in one minute with a little analysis of all of this.