Representative Steve King returned Thursday from a week-long trip to the Middle East and Europe, where he said he saw an “epic migration that's transforming Western civilization in Western Europe.” He said it's no coincidence that four days later, he endorsed Senator Ted Cruz for president.
“It accelerated my conviction to the endorsement of Cruz,” the Iowa Republican said in an interview hours after formally endorsing the Texan at a Des Moines news conference.
“It looks to me that Western civilization is capitulating in western Europe,” King said. Referring to Europe's declining birthrate, he added, “They have refused to reproduce themselves.”
King is expected to lend his political organization, which is especially strong in northwest Iowa, to Cruz. The congressman is one of the state's most influential conservative voices.
In the congressman's view, what's happened in Europe is largely the result of demographic challenges that haven't been addressed, including immigration from other continents, not promoting higher birthrates and not stopping abortions.
“The migration that is coming in is people who are from a completely different culture, religion and civilization who will never assimilate into the broader European culture,” he said. “Europe is so far into decline that if I were a pessimist, I would say it's over for them. I don’t want to see America go that way.”
King predicts that last week's terror attacks in France, for which the terror organization known as the Islamic State is taking credit, will change what issues are most important to those voting in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, now just 11 weeks away.
“It refocuses on the immigration issue and on our borders,” said King, who has made concern about illegal immigration his signature issue. “It screams at us: secure your border, build a fence, a wall, and a fence on your southern border.”
Then, King turned more ominous. “This isn't over,” he said. “I would lay odds that there will be another terrorist attack someplace in the western world between now and Iowa caucus time. If that happens, you'll see even more votes shift over.”
“It's time for us to take stock of our culture and civilization and save it from the people who worship at the altar of multiculturalism, the people at the left that are happy to import undocumented Democrats and happy to work to document them for their own political gain,” he said.
On the issue of immigration, King said he ranks Cruz as the best of the Republican field. But he also admires the stances taken by former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and billionaire Donald Trump, whom he credits with pushing other Republican candidates on the topic. “However this turns out, I'm grateful to Donald Trump for opening up this topic and taking a strong position on it because that opened things up for other candidates to walk through that door,” he said.
King also pointed to likely Supreme Court appointments during the term of the next president. “We don't have any room for error, if we are to save our Constitution,” he said. “There's no one with whom I have as much confidence in making appointments to the Supreme Court as I would Ted Cruz.”
Every four years, King becomes a prime object of his colleagues' affection as Republican presidential candidates come courting in Iowa. His seniority in the state's congressional delegation is second only to Senator Chuck Grassley.
In 2012, King didn't endorse anyone. Four years earlier, he placed his support behind Fred Thompson, who flamed out shortly after the caucuses.
As fall turns to winter, King said he sees the race in Iowa potentially coming down to Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. “I like Cruz's chances there and I certainly like his immigration position a lot better,” said King, in a reference to Rubio's past support of immigration legislation that was unpopular with conservatives because it would have provided millions of people now living in the U.S. illegally with a path to citizenship. The bill failed and Rubio has since dissociated himself from the effort.