Steve King (R-IA) serves as the United States representative for Iowa’s 4th congressional district. Prior to starting a career in politics, he owned and ran a construction company until his election to the Iowa State Senate in 1997, where he worked to establish tax cuts for working Iowans, enforce workplace drug testing, and pass a law that made English the official language in Iowa. Elected to the House of Representatives in 2003, Representative King chairs the Conservative Opportunity Society, a House caucus for Constitutional conservatives in Congress. The Gate interviewed Representative King outside of a Ted Cruz rally in Des Moines, one day before the Iowa Caucuses.
Steve King: So this goes into the paper that you produce at your school?
The Gate: Yes, for the Gate.
King: And what are you studying?
Chelsea Fine: Public Policy.
Liz Stark: Political Science and Gender Studies.
Asya Akça: Political Science.
King: So all Political Science and the one Gender Studies right here?
King: I’ve been engaged in that myself for a lifetime. It’s a mystery one could never unravel.
Gate: What did you study in school?
King: Oh, I actually studied math and biology and chemistry and physics. I tried to study the exact sciences because they were not debatable.
Gate: How has that informed your career in politics?
King: I think it’s been really good because the foundation that I have in science is the foundation that helps me understand things like global warming, for example. I spent my life in the construction business, so the engineering component of that helps—the calculus and the math that goes along with it, and the physics and the chemistry. I know that one of my staff members sat down for an interview and I asked, well tell me about your college education, and he said, I have a double-major in physics and economics. I said, I’m glad that you at least took the trouble to study one exact science. He said, Which one is that? I said, Well, the physics, obviously, because economics is not an exact science. And he said, Sir, I just disagree with you. Physics is not an exact science either, because there are things out there that are on the end of what we understand that are gray and blurry—they are not necessarily black and white. I say, but once we understand them, they will be black and white. So don’t think they’re not as they are. Anyway, I enjoy the intellectual component of this, and we’re always testing ideas. New ideas come forward, and we have to match them up. Something else I believe is that human nature does not change. It’s always been what it is. Technology changes, and when we adapt to that, the culture shifts because of technology. If we ever get the fundamental structure of law correct, then we only need to reconvene to make adjustments for new technology or appropriations for future years.
Gate: How do you think technology has influenced the campaign trail, especially here in Iowa?
King: Back in 1976, when Jimmy Carter came in and popularized the Iowa Caucus, it was across the backyard fence and in the coffeeshops where we talked to each other. We even had party lines back then, because sometimes you just want everyone in the party line to talk. That was a statewide conversation taking place, and today, it’s happening on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, and all the other media. So we still talk across the backyard fence and over coffee and in Church and the like, but we’ve also amassed a large network on social media. So we’re better at it, we’re more sophisticated, we’re three generations of evaluating presidential candidates. There will be people walking to caucus tomorrow night, grandpa and grandma, their children, and their grandchildren, maybe even another generation that’s there to observe. They’ve been taught from little on up to pay attention, all politics, all the time. Figure out who to believe and not to believe, to be critical thinkers. And that’s an important component, and I don’t know where they actually teach that very well.
Gate: You recently endorsed Ted Cruz for president. What factored into that decision?
King: I know about his history, but also, whenever there was a fight that went on in Congress, Ted Cruz was there. Sometimes he beat me there, sometimes I beat him there. But he was there at my side. I have been looking for a full-spectrum Constitutional Christian Conservative who understands the pillars of American exceptionalism, what made us a great country, and understands the damage that has been delivered to us over the years, especially over this current administration. He can look into the camera, look into our eyes, look into our souls, and challenge us to be our better selves. In fact, [he] can be a contributing factor that would restore the soul of America.
Gate: Where will you be watching the results come in tomorrow?
King: [Laughs] I’m not sure—my schedule has been so busy! I will try to speak to two different caucuses if I can with the largest populations that I can, with the highest levels of undecideds. I’m doing everything I can all the time to turn this thing around. Here’s my prediction: I think Ted wins this in a close race with Trump. I think it won’t be a tie, but turnout will make the difference. About 135,000 is the dividing line—if it gets a lot over that, it’ll be in Trump’s favor. If it gets less than that, substantially less than that, it’ll be in Ted’s favor. I’m telling people, it’s a binary decision. Don’t waste your vote. If you like the other candidates down the line, then send them a thank you a card for running because we do appreciate them, but if it’s not a vote for Ted, then it’s a vote for Trump.