His Iowa Freedom Summit over, King had brushed off immigration reformers and settled into his role as a Republican taste-maker. He had intended to watch the speakers, and watch how the audience reacted.
“Part of this is a measure of the interpretations of talking to a good number of people that are highly invested in this,” he said. “We sat around Saturday night and chewed the fat.”
And who won? “Basically, the press reports I read were mostly accurate in their analysis,” said King. “I think [Texas Senator] Ted Cruz had the highest bar to reach, and I think he cleared that bar. I don’t know how much greater than expectations it was, but he at least met and then exceeded expectations. I’m confident that he did for the people who had not heard him speak before.”
Who else performed above expectations? “Probably the person who helped himself the most would be Scott Walker,” said King. “The bar wasn’t as high, and he gave a good speech. He connected with the audience in a good, constructive way. Chris Christie helped himself. He was humorous, he was personal, and it was a good move for him to be there. And Carly Fiorina — you probably noticed this, but when she came out the response was warm but not overwhelming. She converted that warmth into standing ovations multiple times.”