Why Steve King Endorsed Ted Cruz - And Not Ben Carson or Donald Trump

Steve King endorsed Ted Cruz on Monday

ByABC News
November 16, 2015, 2:01 PM

— -- Congressman Steve King has endorsed Ted Cruz for President - saying Cruz is the "answer to my prayers" and that Ben Carson and Donald Trump's lack of Washington, D.C., experience makes the job "harder" for them.

"I do believe that Ted Cruz is the full package, the constitutional conservative that can restore the soul of America," King told reporters in a conference room at the Des Moines Marriott.

King is an influential voice in Iowa politics who was courted by many conservative Republicans including Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. He said he made his decision Friday following a foreign trip to Europe where "I saw the erosion of the culture...because of the colossal cultural suicide they're committing." King was asked why he decided not to endorse either of the two Republican frontrunners, Ben Carson or Donald Trump, whose beliefs align with his.

“It’s going to be harder for either one of them to see what’s going on in Washington, D.C., in K street, in the network," King said. "What's going on in the House and Senate and how does that get leveraged from the executive branch. I don’t hear either one of them talking about the balance of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government. And I don’t hear them talking about Supreme Court appointments."

But King took time to praise both frontrunners calling Carson a "cerebral individual" and acknowledging how Trump's plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants is similar to his own.

“If Donald Trump is the nominee, I can be an enthusiastic supporter for Donald Trump. He’s opened up a lot of the dialogue that makes some of the things I’ve been working for in a political lifetime far more likely," said King.

King's endorsement of Cruz didn't come as a surprise as the two have appeared together numerous times this election season in Iowa including at Cruz's "Rally for Religious Liberty" back in August and King's "Pheasant Hunt" last month. King's son also works for a PAC that backs Cruz and he told the media he plans to actively campaign with and for the Texas Senator.

Following a town hall in Sun City, South Carolina, on Monday, Ted Cruz reacted to Congressman King’s endorsement, saying it was a moment that proved conservatives were uniting behind his campaign and his belief that King’s endorsement will have “enormous influence.”

"There’s no doubt Steve King’s support will have enormous influence. There are few if any conservatives more trusted in the state of Iowa than Steve King is. And the fact that he can say as he is saying to the people of Iowa that, 'I know Ted,' I’ve been under fire, you know who someone is not in good times but in bad times when they’re being attacked, when they’re going through the battles that matters. That’s where character comes in and so I think it is tremendously helpful in Iowa to continue our momentum but I also think it has an impact far beyond Iowa,” Cruz said.

Cruz argued that King’s endorsement is proof that establishment Republicans won’t be able to splinter the conservative vote in the 2016 election.

Cruz also discussed the endorsement’s impact in Iowa, saying "Iowa is an organizational battle, a grassroots battle. It’s about getting people to show up on a cold February night to go and caucus for you and I believe that the team we have on the ground is tremendously strong."

Cruz praised King calling him a friend and a “ferocious defender” of the Constitution. Cruz aligned himself with the same things King has battled for being illegal immigration, Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

Steve King didn't endorse in the 2012 election, but endorsed the late Fred Thompson in 2008.