The Iowa Kingmaker Chooses Cruz: Influential Radio Host Steve Deace Makes His Presidential Endorsement

Iowa-based conservative radio host Steve Deace, who has a long history of making racist and anti-gay remarks, endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for president, a move that was widely expected in light of his attacks on most of the other 2016 Republican candidates -- including former frontrunner Jeb Bush -- as “corporatists.” Deace's support in 2008 for Mike Huckabee has been partially credited for the former Arkansas governor's upset victory in the Iowa Caucus.

During the August 19 broadcast of The Steve Deace Show, Deace endorsed Cruz for president, saying, “He is what we have been waiting for: an end to the false choice between our principles and electability”:

Deace also tweeted his endorsement immediately after announcing it on air:

Deace's endorsement comes as little surprise to observers because he has made no secret of his admiration of Cruz and has expressed strong support for him on his show, calling the Texas senator “the conservative base” and declaring back in March that he would vote for Cruz if the election “were today.” Among Iowa reporters there has also been speculation that Deace has been working for the Cruz campaign as an “informal, unpaid consultant.”

Many of Cruz's opponents have come under fire from Deace, which may have damaged their standing in Iowa. Deace has been described by more than a few media outlets as having large sway with Christian conservatives in Iowa -- ABC News once called him a “conservative hitmaker - and hitman.” Over the last few months, Deace has loudly proclaimed his distaste for the rest of the GOP field: He said Jeb Bush had given the conservative base “the finger” by hiring a gay spokesman and called Bush part of the “Rainbow Jihad” - a term Deace coined to characterize supporters of LGBT causes; of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), whose stock was rising in Iowa last month, Deace warned Iowans to "slow [their] roll" on him as a candidate, criticizing his hiring of a pro-choice campaign staffer and for opposing the government shut-down effort Cruz led over plans to defund the Affordable Care Act. Deace had previously hyped Walker on his website and in his book, but he attacked the candidate last month after Walker was late for an appearance on his show. Deace said Rand Paul's “record is great, [but] his rhetoric blows” after the Kentucky senator failed to take a strong enough stance against abortion.

Deace has a long history of making inflammatory and offensive remarks, including claiming President Obama was “not a Christian” and that divorce could make children gay. His brand of unrelenting conservatism has put him at odds with the Republican establishment, most recently when he criticized Fox News over the August 6 GOP debate, which was moderated by several Fox hosts. Deace took issue with the moderators asking for a pledge from the candidates to support the eventual GOP candidate and claimed he was hearing from frustrated conservatives who felt Fox's Megyn Kelly had tried to “take out” Donald Trump.

Deace is often a guest of mainstream media like NPR and MSNBC, where he is asked to provide objective analysis of the GOP field. That might not happen as much in the future, given today's announcement.