Jeb Bush isn't going to Rep. Steve King's crazy summit. Neither is Mitt or Marco Rubio. Chris Christie is attending (
though no one can imagine why
Anyone who goes will share the stage with past Iowa caucus winners and ultimate nomination losers: Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum (not to mention Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Michele Bachmann). Both Huckabee and Santorum kicked off their fateful campaigns with triumphant wins in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
Winning Iowa has become the kiss of death for Republicans. That's because Iowa Republicans have followed right-wing Rep. Steve King down a path that has entirely marginalized the state's Republican caucus, writes Iowa resident and immigration advocate Matt Hildreth today in the Des Moines Register.
There was a time when Iowans picked Presidents. But for Iowa Republicans, that may no longer be true -- thanks to Rep. Steve King.
From 1972 until 2000, Hildreth notes, Iowa Republicans chose the candidate who became the party nominee four out of five times. But ever since then, they've picked the losers, like Huckabee '08 and Santorum 2012.
Compare this to Iowa Democrats, who have successfully picked their eventual nominee every year since 1992, when Tom Harkin, an Iowan, was in the running.
So what changed for Iowa Republicans between 2000 and 2008? Steve King was elected to Congress in 2003 and began pushing the state's party into right-wing oblivion.
This weekend, King will again force his agenda on Iowa voters during his Iowa Freedom Summit. It's not the caucus, to be sure, but it is a chance for candidates to get to know Iowa Republicans in a setting where Steve King sets the terms of the debate.
And look out! Hildreth recalls the last time King ruined a candidacy: Mitt Romney in 2012. When Romney visited King's district, the presidential hopeful told GOP voters he would veto the DREAM Act if it reached his desk as president. At the time, Romney was trying to edge out Santorum to win the Iowa caucus. Santorum took Iowa anyway (by just 34 votes) while Romney took the nomination, but the GOP nominee was saddled with an anti-immigrant label that helped crush his candidacy in the general election. Latinos voted for Obama over Romney by a stunning 71 to 27 percent. The rest is history.
It was essentially a twofer for Iowa Republicans: they picked the wrong guy and managed to kill the chances of the right guy. Good work if you can get it.
But Iowa's Steve King effect is bigger than just one candidate or campaign.
Because if local Republicans keep letting Steve King run the show, it won’t be long until serious presidential candidates skip Iowa altogether. And what good is it to be first, if no serious candidates show up?
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