Okay… maybe it’s not technically a presidential candidate debate, but it might as well be. Iowa representative (and “King maker” if the Des Moines Register is the judge of such things) Steve King is planning to not only keep Iowa relevant in the nomination process, but will waste no time in getting the barn door open. He wants to kick off the conversation by getting those aspiring to the Oval Office together right after New Years for a chat.
The conservative congressman with the fitting last name is launching his own annual multicandidate forum for presidential hopefuls.
“It’ll be an event that all the nation stops and looks at,” King told The Des Moines Register in a telephone interview Monday. “What gets said and done, some of those things will be driving the conversation in the country.”
The inaugural Iowa Freedom Summit will be in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 24, more than a year from the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. King’s co-host is Citizens United, a conservative organization best known for influencing campaign finance in this country.
Three Republicans who are seriously weighing 2016 presidential bids are already booked as headline speakers for the summit, which will have no cost to attend: Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
Every Republican who’s thinking about a White House bid has been invited, King told the Register.
January 24th? I’m not sure if my hangover from New Years Eve will be cleared up by then. Holy Hannah… I’m not sure my hangover from the last election will be gone.
Getting Rick Santorum to sign on probably wasn’t much of a trick. The former Pennsylvania senator has now been running for president since roughly 1972. (Alright… it just feels that way.) I’m a little surprised that Cruz and Huckabee were both so fast off the mark, though, since they each have a pretty solid base in their own niche of the GOP electorate and could jump in much later if they chose to do so. But with a couple of known (or heavily suspected) contenders signed on, the flood gates will likely open quickly and the rest of the big names and big dreamers will come calling. Let’s face it… nobody wants to let an event slip by where the early poll numbers could be jarred by even a single point.
The shocker from the other end of the scale in terms of potential is the lack of Ben Carson’s name on the early adopter list. I’d have guessed that he’d be the first one at the trough since he has a lot of ground to make up as the newer kid on the block. Will Christie show up? Will he even be invited, given his not exactly stellar numbers in Hawkeye country? The real question mark is Mitt Romney. (Allahpundit is away at the moment, so I felt obligated to sneak that one in there.) He maintains his position that he’s not running again, so showing up on stage at this event would really flip the game board over.
Will we lower ourselves to cover such an awkwardly early jump into the 2016 pool, adding to the perception that our government is nothing but a perpetual campaign machine? Oh, baby… you know we will. See you in Iowa.