Two more Iowa congressmen have endorsed presidential candidates. Congressman Dave Loebsack has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama and Congressman Steve King has endorsed Republican Fred Thompson. King’s endorsement had an air of drama with staffers for both Thompson and Mitt Romney standing in the room when King delivered his news.
“My long and exceptionally deliberative evaluation of the Republican candidates for president has come to an end,” King said. “I will put all my efforts into it and the fire into the belly of the person who I believe destiny has called to be the next president of the United States. I will be working for and supporting Fred Thompson for president.”
King spent nearly 16 minutes extolling the virtues of all the other GOP candidates before speaking about Thompson in just the last two minutes of his remarks. “There is only one candidate who epitomizes the full spectrum of our conservative values. There is one who is a comfortable conservative whom I have full confidence in his decisions,” King said. “That candidate also has the fire in his belly to go the distance and the brains and resources to get there, and if it’s not there, I intend to work hard to put it there.”
King mentioned Thompson’s alleged lack of motivation — that “fire in the belly stuff” — not once but twice. “It comes up, but you know I’m kind of an antidote for that so we’ll see how that works,” King told reporters.
Afterwards, King seemed to admit he had made up his mind about the endorsement as he was speaking this morning. “No one knew,” King said moments before at his news conference. “That means my wife maybe still doesn’t know.”
During an interview earlier this morning with Radio Iowa — before King made his endorsement — Thompson said endorsements are no indication of how people will vote because Americans are “independent” minded these days.
“They have an opportunity to, goodness knows, ad nauseum to see the candidates and so there’s no need for any intermediaries anymore as far as the American electorate is concerned, but if you know somebody, somebody knows you, has been close to you either personally or politically and knows you and knows your character, knows your record very closely and has been following you for a lot of years, I think that means something to people but I’m not sure how much.”
According to the candidate, Thompson and his campaign are actively seeking more endorsements like King’s. “I think someone said one time that campaign activity is 95 percent a waste of time, but nobody knows which 95 percent it is so you do all of it,” Thompson said.
Congressman Loeback’s endorsement of Barack Obama was made official earlier this morning and he spoke with Radio Iowa by telephone. “On the Democratic side we have a field of very strong candidates but in that field, for me, Barack is the strongest — clearly the strongest,” Loebsack said.
According to Loebsack, Obama has the ability to bridge the partisan divide. “There are a number of things that impressed me about Barack, but in particular his commitment to change the way business is done in Washington,” Loebsack said. “I think we need his leadership to bring all Americans together around shared purposes and I think that Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to transcend our differences.”
Al Gore and Tom Harkin were among those who endorsed Howard Dean in advance of the 2004 Caucuses, and Loebsack said the value of his own endorsement of Obama “remains to be seen.”
“I’m just going to do all I can, obviously, to help him between now and January 3rd,” Loebsack said.
Congressman Leonard Boswell endorsed Hillary Clinton last week and Congressman Bruce Braley endorsed John Edwards before that. The other member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation is Tom Latham, a Republican, and he has not endorsed a candidate. His daughter, though, works for Mitt Romney.
Audio: King news conference 20 min MP3
Audio: Loebsack chat with Radio Iowa 2:30 MP3