Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King came to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 after 28 years as a small businessman and state legislator. Today, he is an irritant to the Republican establishment, a hero to the grassroots tea party movement and a top target the Democrats are aiming to beat in 2012.
Of the current 242 Republicans in the House (and 193 Democrats), principled conservative Republicans can range from over 170 on some days to the 22 who voted under intense leadership pressure against House Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling increase on July 29. King is part of a small, hard-core group of conservatives who presses the Republican leadership to be bolder and more principled. Back in 2009, he even surprised a grateful Rush Limbaugh by his tough questioning of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the excessive “political correctness” that may have cost Rush a chance at being a part-owner of an NFL team.
In an interview with TheDC’s Ginni Thomas, Steve King talks about what’s at stake in our national politics, how the Republican leadership could improve, how Occupy Wall Street compares with the tea party and more.
What are the biggest threats to this nation right now?
“This society seems to have forgotten the history of how we got here and what made us great.”
Talk about your observations about Occupy Wall Street movement as compared to the tea party movement
“It’s so ironic that Nancy Pelosi declared the tea party to be ‘AstroTurf’ … Occupy Wall Street is, by the information I’m getting, actually a movement that was strategized by Democrat operatives.”
How can regular citizens decipher whether Congress is making enough progress to end excessive federal spending or is just “spinning”?
“The tea party, the constitutional conservatives have to step up, understand this problem, send people to this Congress that demand that we fix this budget crisis that we’re in.”
Your congressional election in Iowa has suddenly been rated as one of the most competitive in the nation. Why?
“When you’re vocal, when you stand up on principle, the other side has legions of professional hyper-ventilators sitting at the website watching … They get up in the morning and look at their Google Alerts, and say, what could he have said that I can be exasperated with.”
How might the Republican Leadership improve its connection with grassroots conservatives?
“Some of the leaders were former revolutionaries who came in here to shake things up. Some of them did shake things up. I’ve known a number of them by now. By the time they get into the leadership position, they get interested in smooth sailing.”
Mrs. Thomas does not necessarily support or endorse the products, services or positions promoted in any advertisement contained herein, and does not have control over or receive compensation from any advertiser.