DES MOINES, Iowa -- Gov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday he wants Sen. Ted Cruz defeated.
Branstad made his comments after addressing a room of alternative energy supporters at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona.
Congressman Steve King, who endorsed Cruz last month, said the governor's statement was incorrect.
“I think it was out of character for the governor to take such a bold statement. When I listened to the statements that he made, I wish he’d been listening to someone other than his son when he was getting his information on Ted Cruz’s position Cruz's and policy."
Branstad's son has led a bipartisan group of renewable fuels supporters who believe Cruz's previous opposition to renewable energy puts him at odds with the interests of Iowa's alternative fuel efforts. But King says Cruz is not opposed to renewable energy, he’s for it.
King also said Branstad's comments will hurt the Iowa Caucuses.
"If we lose it, we'll look back at this time. We'll look back at yesterday ... as the day the process started when the governor attacked Ted Cruz and didn't stick to the truth," King said.
King said Cruz has put together a policy for Iowa's $14.5 billion gallon ethanol market to grow up to $25 billion.
"He's for competition in the marketplace, he is for the Iowa farmer, he is for renewable fuels, he just doesn’t believe we should have subsidies or mandates and he would eliminate all subsidies for the petroleum industry and in doing so, he steps down the mandate on the RFS. I’d say take another look, Governor, go back to this and correct your statement so Iowans are dealing with facts when they go to caucus.”
Sen. Charles Grassley weighed in on the controversy as well.
He said Wednesday that he has no problem with the governor defending an important industry to our state. He also doesn't think the governor harmed Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.
"Over 40 years we've developed a good reputation, regardless of what's said,” Grassley said.
Grassley said as long as Iowa’s Democratic and Republican leaders continue to work together to plead the state’s case, there is no reason we shouldn't remain first in the nation for a long time to come.
King is campaigning this week in Iowa along with Cruz's wife, Heidi.