Republican Congressman Steve King and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann have been close allies in congress, but King isn’t ready to endorse any candidate’s bid for the White House, including Bachmann’s. King says the presidential candidate he publicly endorses has to prove to him that they have “earned” the support of voters.

“You can take the best raw material, the person that’s got the best talented gifts to be president of the United States and pluck them out of whatever walk in life it might be and put them in the Oval Office and they would not be near the president for us that they will be once they go through this crucible of the nominating and the election process,” King says.

According to King, one important proving ground for Bachmann and the rest of the candidates is the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll in Ames on August 13.

Last time around, King waited until just a couple of weeks before the 2008 Iowa Caucuses to endorse Fred Thompson, a late entrant in that presidential race. Although former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is among the candidates who are still mulling a late entrance in the 2012, King is skeptical there’ll be a Palin/Bachmann alliance in the General Election.

“It’s tough enough to get a woman on the ticket, let alone two women on the ticket, let’s put it that way,” King says. “And I think men have a lot to offer, too — just being a guy.”

King staged a news conference at a Des Moines hotel on December 17, 2007 to announce he was endorsing Fred Thompson’s bid for the White House. King has said this time around he wants to make his endorsement earlier in the campaign, but he will not make his choice public before the Straw Poll.

King made his comments during an interview with Ric Hanson of KJAN Radio in Atlantic.