Conservative Rep. King Says Tea Party 'Stronger in Some States and Weaker in Others'

Conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) acknowledged that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could become a "tremendous figure" on the national stage but cautioned against writing any sort of eulogy for the Tea Party.

King laughed at CNN's assertion that Tuesday defeats in Alabama and Virginia kicked the Tea Party down a few notches.

"It's pretty easy, the morning after the election, for people to spin their results around the preconceived misconceptions they had before the polls. I look around the country and there's one message coming out of New Jersey, a different message coming out of Virginia, and a different one coming out of Alabama," King said.

"But what is the bottom line answer to this is that the Tea Party is stronger in some states and weaker in others. A month ago, they were accused of having the power to shut down the entire United States federal government and today, they're talking about the death of the Tea Party."

The congressman said he though Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis sapped more votes from Ken Cuccinelli than Terry McAuliffe.

"I think Cuccinelli at least has moral victory, given all the predictions that are there," King said. "...I think your conservative candidate that fits the full spectrum is the stronger of all the candidates and they're the ones that are going to prevail, if they have the personal magnetism like a Chris Christie especially."

When asked about Christie's statements that he's happy for happy gay couples, King said that shouldn't be extrapolated to make assumptions about the governor's position on gay marriage.

"Take it for what he said. If they're happy, I'm happy. In other words, he accepted the -- I'll say it, the position of gay marriage existing in New Jersey. We've had to make accommodations for that in Iowa, we have some experience with that. But he didn't endorse gay marriage," the social conservative said. "And the Tea Party themselves, and I've been in many discussions with them and try to argue to the contrary, they say we want to stay with the economic and the constitutional issues. Not the social agenda. So, I don't know that gay marriage can be a sign the Tea Party necessarily opposes. Although, certainly, a significant percentage of its members do."

The congressman encouraged any presidential hopefuls to "come to Iowa and let's test it out," something Christie has done at least twice so far.

"He was very well-received both times. He has this tremendous personal magnetism, different than any of the candidates I've met," King continued.

He added that we'll see if Christie stands up to the "crucible of the nomination process."

"And we'll see if Chris Christie can stand up to that. He could become a tremendous figure on the public stage. There are a number of other candidates that will be competing in that arena and I welcome them all to Iowa."