DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A conservative Iowa congressman has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, saying the senator from Texas answers his prayers.
Republican congressman Steve King, an influential conservative in the leadoff caucus state, said in a news conference Monday that Cruz would appeal to a wide range of Republicans and praised his efforts to fight President Barack Obama's health care law and defend religious liberty.
"I do believe Ted Cruz is the full package, the constitutional conservative that can restore the soul of America," said King, who represents western and northern Iowa.
Cruz, who was campaigning in South Carolina Monday, tweeted that he was "beyond honored" by King's endorsement.
An outspoken opponent of immigration reform, King also said he liked Cruz's immigration proposals, which include dramatically increasing deportations, adding hundreds of miles to the wall on the Mexican border and reversing every immigration order signed by President Barack Obama, including one that defers enforcement for many children of immigrants in the country illegally.
King said he was not concerned by the fact that during the immigration debate two years ago Cruz introduced amendments to double the cap on legal immigration and increase the number of high-skilled immigrant visas by 500 percent. King called these "strategic amendments" to expose political flaws in the process. He said he hoped his endorsement would reinforce Cruz's immigration positions.
"I hope that this endorsement does add clarity to Ted Cruz's position on immigration and any of the competitors that are blurring his position on immigration," King said.
Cruz, the son of a Cuban immigrant, last week vowed to suspend a program that gives work visas to highly skilled immigrants, a reversal of his past position. He has also rejected comments from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that the two senators hold similar stances on immigration. Rubio has said that Cruz, like him, supported a legal status for those in the country illegally.
King also says Cruz knows Washington, in contrast to Republican outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are leading the GOP nomination fight. Cruz has campaigned heavily in Iowa and will be in the state on Friday.