JOHNSTON, Iowa | U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on Friday said the race to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, will be an "uphill battle" for any Republican who runs.
"Iowa has turned a little to the left," said King, a potential candidate for the position, during a taping of public television show "Iowa Press."
King was peppered with questions about his plan to run for the seat, which Harkin is leaving next year. King said he's been meticulously examining polling data, which he declined to share publicly, in advance of announcing a decision either way.
The only other candidate in the race is U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo.
King, who has been in Congress since 2003, has been criticized for his comments about immigration and same-sex marriage. He has strong support among tea party members and conservative activists.
Some national strategists, including a former adviser to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, have raised questions about whether King's brand of politics has enough broad appeal to win the position statewide. President Barack Obama won Iowa in the November election.
The Iowa seat is being closely watched as Republicans work to regain control of the Senate in the mid-term elections.
King on Friday disagreed with his critics.
"What position have I taken that's out of step with Iowans? I know of none," he said. "I think I can win on that brand statewide."
A February poll of 523 Iowans by Harper Polling showed King was the top conservative candidate for the Harkin seat.
On other topics, King, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he expects a farm bill in "four to six weeks" that would include cuts to food assistance programs.
As for the ongoing automatic spending cuts, King said President Barack Obama "convinced a majority of Americans and me that the only way we were going to get spending cuts was to allow the sequester to kick in."
But, he said, he hasn't joined the camp of some in Congress who say they all should be left in place.
"The one thing in Iowa that affected us most directly was the sequestration cuts into our meat inspectors and the proposals that there would be furloughs of our meat inspectors," he said. "I always said that will not happen, and I always said the USDA will have to walk back their words."