Rep. Steve King didn’t get a chance to question Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a presidential candidates’ forum Monday, with Perry canceling at the last minute to return to his home state to help respond to wildfires. But King, R-Iowa, served notice that Perry will have hard questions to answer from conservatives, now that he’s vaulted to the top of national polls.
“He’s the candidate now that has taken a leap up to the top of the polls, and as people get to know him, that momentum will diminish some. And can the substance hold his lead in the polls?” King told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “That’s the question: Will a substance of Rick Perry hold his lead in the polls?”
There’s one particular part of Perry’s biography that King wants to explore:
“I want to be very knowledgeable about … the continuum of the transformation of Rick Perry from apparently a Democrat to a Republican,” he said. “I know that Karl Rove had something to do with that. I want to get to know Rick Perry, and Americans want to get to know Rick Perry.”
King said he considers Perry the frontrunner at this point, but is anxious to see his performance at tonight’s debate.
“I have to accept that’s where the polls are right now, and there’s also the wave that he has caught – the anticipation wave. Now we’ll see how he surfs on that wave tonight with the first debate that he has been in as a presidential candidate,” King said. “I’m told that this would be the fifth debate that he’s done in his political career. He’s not particularly seasoned in the debate arena – let’s see how he does.”
King, a friend of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Iowa, said Bachmann enjoyed less of a bounce than she would have normally from her win in the Ames Straw Poll because Perry timed his presidential announcement to “step” on it.
With Bachmann replacing several top campaign staffers this week, King suggested that she needs to spend more time on the trail connecting with voters. (Her campaign has come under criticism for keeping the candidate sealed off from members of the press and public.)
“My advice would be to her is just dive right into the mosh pit and go out there and campaign and be yourself. Anytime the handlers affect the personality that’s reflected through the media — you just need to go react with real people. I’ve seen her do that on a number of occasions, and she and Marcus both enjoy retail politics. There’s a lot of it to go on between now and the nomination,” King said.