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Political Mercury

Steve King makes his case for re-election to Congress


Protecting the unborn.

Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, is pictured with supporters following a decisive re-election win in 2012. King is seeking re-election this November in a district in which he has dominated at the polls. (Photo courtesy of Carroll Daily Times Herald)

In answering a wide-open question about what he’d most like to see associated with his re-election campaign, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, didn’t hesitate in spotlighting the anti-abortion beliefs that motivated the now eight-term congressman to enter politics more than two decades ago.

“I think people know what I stand for,” King said in an interview with this newspaper. “One is the heartbeat bill.”

King, who has authored that legislation — The Federal Heartbeat Protection Act (HR490) — in the U.S. House, said physicians should be mandated to check for a heartbeat in a baby before performing an abortion.

“If a heartbeat can be detected, the baby is protected,” King said. “We know that’s life. The Knights of Columbus have put up billboards all over this country by the thousands to say, ‘Abortion stops a beating heart.’ ”

Prep Iowa

King said he is positioning the heartbeat legislation to take advantage of what he expects to be a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

“We don’t have time to wait,” he said. “If we wait until the court is favorable, we have to take onto our conscience a million perfect little babies every year until we can get this court to turn around again.”

King said the abortion stance is reflective of a cultural connectivity he shares with western and central Iowans.
“The positions I’ve taken are utterly consistent with a significant majority of the people all across the 4th District,” King said.

King said Iowans in the 39-county sweep he represents in Washington, D.C., should “count their blessings.”
“I mean that from an economic standpoint especially,” he said.

He said Iowa is the No. 1 state in which to live, a reference to a February U.S. News & World Report piece giving Iowa top-tier reviews on education, infrastructure and other qualities.

Specifically, he said he has helped deliver on a promise to four-lane U.S. Highway 20 across the state.

“We will cut the ribbon on that before the election in November, because politics trumps bad weather,” King said.
What’s more, he said, Iowa is the No. 1 renewable-energy-producing district in the nation with biofuels, wind energy and solar.

“We have development, and we have growth,” he said. “There’s a lot that is happening that is good.”

King said he understands his district as well as anyone, as he’s met with people in each of its 382 cities and remains in touch. Either King himself or his staff visit all of the cities annually, he said.

King, a construction company owner who said he vividly recalls living in rural Iowa during the farm crisis of the 1980s, said he’s highly concerned about the effects on ag markets of President Trump’s $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. The Chinese quickly struck back on the U.S. agricultural economy.

“If Tom Clancy were alive today writing a novel about a trade war, how it begins and how it plays out, we would be in about chapter two right now in reality,” King said. “And the trade war now has begun, and it could be dialed back. I hope it is. Having said that, I never would have put the tariffs on steel and aluminum that were put on. We have to play it out now, because that decision is made.”

The congressman, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, said retaliatory tariffs from China were predictable.

King said he has talked directly with President Trump; Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council; and Peter Navarro, the chief of the president’s National Trade Council, on the tariffs and American agriculture.

“These guys are people I am dealing with one on one,” he said.

King said the United States should pursue a host of bilateral trade agreements, adding he is encouraged that Trump may be reconsidering the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP, which Trump scuttled after winning the White House, is a trade pact involving 12 nations, including the United States, that border the Pacific Ocean and represent 40 percent of the world’s economic output.

Former Iowa Govs. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, and Terry Branstad, a Republican, strongly endorsed the TPP as vital for Iowa agricultural trade.

“I’m a strong supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” King said.

King faces a GOP primary challenge against little-known, and lightly funded, Cyndi Hanson of Sioux City, the top administrator at the South Sioux City campus of Northeast Nebraska Community College. ♦

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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