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Iowa Freedom Summit Kicks Off With Republican Star Power

Iowa conservatives prepare for Republican rally, hope to see Jeb Bush soon 2:27

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Republican race for the White House in 2016 starts here. At least that's what Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Saturday morning as he kicked off the Iowa Freedom Summit, a GOP star-powered event hosting nearly two-dozen speakers and possible presidential contenders. King, who's co-hosting with the conservative group Citizens United, said he believes the next country's president will be speaking from the summit's stage.

This "cattle call" of potential candidates is the unofficial precursor to the Iowa caucus season, which begins Feb. 1, 2016. Twenty-three speakers are on the Iowa Freedom Summit program — 10 of whom are being eyed for the White House nod in 2016, including Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. Other potential 2016 contenders who were invited — but are not attending — include Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.

King called for the election of a "full-spectrum constitutional conservative, who makes the pledge to America ... to restore that separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government." He cited Obamacare as an example of President Barack Obama overreaching his authority, adding that conservatives must "defend this Constitution, and we must restore the rule of law."

King, the social conservative leader from the Hawkeye State, is also an outspoken opponent of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and just this week at the State of the Union claimed first lady Michelle Obama was sitting with a "deportable." The Obamas had invited a so-called DREAMer, an undocumented immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child.

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— Alex Moe and Elisha Fieldstadt