CPAC VIEW: GOP Shouldn’t Abandon Principals

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(CNN) — U.S. Rep. Steve King — who is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate — said Saturday he will leave this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference with renewed energy.

“I’m going to go out of this place like a rocket. This is such a dynamic place for conservatives to gather together,” he said in an interview on CNN. “There’s no better place to be in America right now.”

The conservative Iowa Republican said in the interview that he will continue examining his prospects for filling the seat held since 1984 by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who announced he will not seek a sixth term.

“We will build a campaign on paper, take a look at that and make a decision yes or no,” he said. “I don’t have a timing set on that, but it won’t be a few days — it’ll be longer than that.”

In a conversation with CNN off camera, he elaborated on his plans, saying he would conduct polling over the next few weeks to see where he would stand before making the final decision.

If he does enter the race, he would be seen by many as the GOP front-runner – making his decision highly anticipated in political circles.

The race is shaping up as a potential major 2014 showdown. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up between the two sides, while the Rothenberg Political Report rates the race as leaning in the Democrats’ favor.

On the Republican side, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey have both said they are considering bids. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has urged several potential candidates to mull a run, including Reynolds and U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, who has said he will instead seek re-election to his House seat.

Democratic congressman Bruce Braley announced in February his plans to run. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he will not run but his wife, Christine, has been suggested as a Democratic candidate.

The next senator would serve alongside Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, whose sixth term ends in 2016.

King rebuked any efforts by GOP figures to chart a renewed path forward for the party if such plans meant Republicans would “abandon our principles.”

“There’s a struggle going on within the party between some people that want to redefine or rebrand the Republican Party and those of us who stand on our first principles and our core principles,” he said in the interview.