Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.
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Chris Christie’s pal, Steve King

Updated
Over the summer, Peter Hamby, a political reporter for CNN, joked, “You can’t imagine Chris Christie hanging out with Steve King.” It seemed like a fair point – Christie has cultivated an image as a national, mainstream figure within the Republican Party, while King, best known for his aggressively anti-immigrant posture, is on the right-wing fringe.
 
And yet, it’s actually not hard to imagine Chris Christie palling around with Steve King after all. Aliyah Frumin reported yesterday:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading back to Iowa next month for a conservative summit co-hosted by GOP Rep. Steve King and Citizens United – stoking further speculation that the Republican is all but certainly running for president in 2016.
 
The appearance at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24 will be Christie’s first visit to the state – which kicks off the presidential nominating process – since the midterm elections…. Christie also headlined King’s annual pheasant hunt fundraiser back in October.
And as long as we’re on the subject, Christie also campaigned for King in 2012, headlining a luncheon on behalf of the extremist congressman.
 
The obvious takeaway from this is that Christie, to the surprise of absolutely no one, is gearing up to launch a presidential campaign, which necessarily means pandering to radical figures within his party. In New Jersey, the governor has occasionally been comfortable condemning the “crazies,” in his words, within the GOP, but when looking ahead to the national landscape, Christie apparently has far fewer qualms about cozying up to radical figures.
 
But Christie may very well come to regret his alliance with Steve King.
 
It was just this summer when the right-wing Iowan said of Dream Act kids, “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds – and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
 
Plenty of Republicans rebuked King for his bizarre rhetoric, and Christie was among them, calling it “an awful comment and one that he shouldn’t have made, and you know, sometimes I’m shocked by the level of intolerant comments that otherwise intelligent people will make.”
 
I guess they’ve reconciled their differences?
 
Jennifer Rubin rarely publishes pieces I find compelling, but just a few weeks ago, she urged her party’s presidential hopefuls to keep King at arm’s length, and that advice seems especially relevant now.
It would be a grave error for these or other Republicans to attend or to seek the stamp of approval from King, whose language and views on illegal immigrants have been so noxious as to draw rebukes from his own party. King’s infamous comments are indicative of a tiny segment of the GOP that is not only anti-illegal immigration but anti-immigrant. There is no place in a party, especially one trying to remake its image, for remarks such as those King has uttered.
 
A candidate need not share the views of every sponsor whose event he attends. But in the case of King, there is no way to separate him from the event nor to separate his attempt at gaining legitimacy from those Republicans showing up at his request. As a simple matter of politics, any candidate appearing with King will be seen as legitimizing his views. They risk having their pictures – and their views – linked…. By empowering King, they would only harm their party and their own bona fides with nontraditional GOP voters. They should stay away. Period.
At this point, Christie doesn’t seem to care. We’ll see how that works out for him.
 

Chris Christie, Iowa and Steve King

Chris Christie's pal, Steve King

Updated