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LIVEBLOG: Everything You Need to Know About Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit

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About a dozen potential GOP presidential candidates are gathering this weekend at Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit, where they’ll hang out with Iowa voters, potentially build a base for their 2016 run, and just maybe make some mistakes that could cost the Republican Party enough Latino votes to lose the next election.  We’ll be live-blogging throughout the weekend, check back in for regular #IAFreedomSummit news!

Sunday 3:28 PM ET

Here’s an early clip on the DREAMers’ actions in Iowa yesterday, via Buzzfeed:

The DREAMers included national immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who made the trip to Iowa to join with other DREAMers from across the country including Texas and New Jersey, which helps explain why Perry and Christie were the two interrupted. Vargas and Marco Malagon from Texas, were arrested afterwards, New Jersey DREAMer Giancarlo Tello told BuzzFeed News. They have since been released.

Malagon was the one yelling, “We are Americans.”

“Marco is an undocumented person from Texas and Perry is the guy who was governor, the guy who sent the National Guard to the border,” Tello said, of Perry’s response to the unaccompanied minors crisis from Central Malagon. He said Malagon has a child on the way.

“He wanted to confront Perry, he wanted to represent his community, his family and his unborn son and try to ensure their safety,” he added.

The activists were holding up signs that said, “Deportable?” a reference to a much-maligned Steve King tweet before the State of the Union address, complaining that Michelle Obama’s guest was a DREAMer.

Saturday 7:45 PM ET

The recap, from Marco and Cesar about their arrest following a protest of Chris Christie:

Saturday 7:09 PM ET

The DREAMers arrested — including Cesar Vargas of DRM Action Coalition — have been released without charges.  View more tweets, photos, and videos of the arrest here.

Saturday 6:36 PM ET

Courtesy of David Weigel, here’s a video of DREAMers protesting Rick Perry’s speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit.  It’s not clear whether Perry realized what was going on.  DREAMers have been arrested as a result of the interruption.

Saturday 6:11 PM ET

Why does Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) want to kill a program that has successfully brought hundreds of thousands of DREAMers out of the shadows?  Why does he support deportations that separate families?  Watch him talk about how he supports ending DACA and DAPA:

Q: Would you vote for the House bill that was passed? MIKE LEE: Yeah, I intend to vote for it.

Saturday 3:50 PM ET

Courtesy of American Bridge, here’s Rick Santorum doubling down on his argument that legal immigration is bad for America.  Check out this video of him below speaking about the “problem” of legal immigrants:

We have a problem with legal immigration.  Legal immigration is at an all-time high…we have the highest level of immigration than we’ve ever had in America.  And it’s affecting American workers.

Saturday 3:24 PM ET

Donald Trump to DREAMer: “You’ll be happy with me.” How? “Just watch.” Watch what? The Apprentice? Maybe Celebrity Apprentice? The interaction starts at the 1:04 mark.

Saturday 2:20 PM ET

Headline from Steve King‘s speech at today’s event, via Politico:

Steve King opens Iowa summit with attack on DREAMers

In an attempted joke, he called Dreamers with DRM Action Coalition — like Erika Andiola, who dared him to rip up her DACA card last August — ‘those people that come from the other planet.’

Here’s the excerpt:

“We’re a great people. We have a vitality that’s unequaled on the planet. We come from every possible planet, uh, every possible continent,” King said, to laughter from the crowd. After a brief pause, the congressman referenced the DREAM Action Coalition, an immigration advocacy group protesting the event in Des Moines. “They’re across the street, those people that come from the other planet,” he said, prompting more laughs and applause from the audience.

Saturday 1:12 PM ET

Most of the more serious potential 2016 GOP candidates will be speaking later in the day, but Donald Trump has spoken and took a couple swipes at immigrants – and Jeb Bush. Coincidentally, both Trump and Bush married immigrants. Trump has done so a couple times!

DREAMers are on the scene, doing interviews and gearing up to discuss immigration with the candidates:

Saturday 10:25 AM ET

Good morning! The Freedom Summit is underway – and the immigrant bashing has already begun. One speaker has already stated “Iowans don’t care about immigration. ‘We do care about illegal gate-crashers, as Steve King would say.'” Yes, it’s Steve King’s big day:

  The DREAMers are in Iowa. This was tweeted last night by our colleague (and Iowan) Matt Hildreth:

Last night, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did a report on the King Summit, noting “King speaks for the GOP on immigration.” Erika Andiola, who is in Iowa today, was interviewed by Hayes:

Friday 4:47 PM ET

Two DREAMers happened to take the same flight as Rick Santorum to Des Moines.  When they asked him about executive action, he said that he would “end DACA, but provide waivers for DREAMers.”  Watch:


There will be at least two.  The Des Moines Register will be covering every speech live here. C-Span will be covering here.


Check in with our Twitter list for updates from the ground:

Worst of Steve King

Looking for a refresher of the worst things Steve King has said on immigration?  American Bridge released a video this morning of Steve King quotes and his relationship with key GOP 2016 hopefuls:

DREAMer Prep

Advocates with Dream Iowa and the DRM Action Coalition (of Rand Paul-running away fame) are making big plans to target candidates at this weekend’s summit and going forward in the 2016 election cycle.  Some signs they’re getting ready:

What We’re Reading

From Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg:

Republican Representative Steve King is trying to do for his party’s aspiring presidential field what he’s already done for its congressional wing: cover it in the neon hues of his own blazing intolerance…

The nativists, reactionaries and cranks long ago stopped being a manageable fringe in the Republican Party; they’re now too numerous and powerful for other conservatives to battle out in the open. With demographics and reason forming a pincer movement on the right flank of conservative dogma, at some point the long, tragic slide of the Republican Party will end. But it won’t be this weekend.

Paul Waldman at Washington Post:

Are you a Republican presidential candidate looking to meet and greet some Iowa voters this weekend while also alienating the Hispanics you’ll need to get to the White House if you’re fortunate enough to win your party’s nomination? Then you’d better get yourself to the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, an event organized by Rep. Steve King, perhaps the most vehemently anti-immigrant member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

You might think that given Mitt Romney’s disastrous showing among Hispanics in 2012 (after “self-deportation,” he ended up winning only 27 percent of their votes), and the sense among some Republicans that it will be harder to win the White House without making inroads with this fast-growing part of the electorate, candidates would be skittish about palling around with King…

Even if the candidates are careful not to say anything too inflammatory this weekend, they’re still going to be asked later about why they went to kiss the ring of a guy like Steve King.

So here’s a crazy idea. What if one of those eight candidates got up at this event and said, “Representative King, I appreciate you inviting me here, but I’m going to have to be honest and tell you that you and people who think like you do are killing this party that we all love. There are some things we can agree on, like the need for a more secure border. But every time we rain contempt down on immigrants, we push away millions of voters that we ought to be reaching out to instead. If we’re ever going to win back the White House, that has to change”…

But of course, that won’t happen. Instead, the candidates are all going to praise Steve King, pledge to get tough on illegal immigration, and keep digging themselves deeper into a hole that they’ll have an awfully hard time climbing out of when the general election arrives.

Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos:

King set the tone for the event earlier this week when he referred to a Dreamer who watched the State of the Union address from the First Lady’s box as “a deportable.” Dream activists have already prepped signs reading, “DEPORTABLE? Do potential presidential candidates agree with Rep. Steve King?”

Mitt Romney, once burned, had the good sense to find a scheduling conflict—as did Jeb Bush and even Marco Rubio. But for some inexplicable reason Chris Christie and Scott Walker have decided to join the event alongside elements like Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump and his rug.

As we noted yesterday, wooing Iowa’s right-wing voters has become the kiss of death for GOP candidates. Get out the popcorn, folks. Entertainment is coming your way.

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