Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) (AP)

Need proof? Spend a few minutes with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — one of the most outspoken conservative members of Congress and a frequent critic of President Obama’s presidency who maintains a loyal national following thanks mostly to his frequent appearances on cable news talk shows — and he’ll tell you there are only two names Romney should consider: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Rubio, the Florida senator.

“Both of them would be very capable,” King said after a town hall Monday with about 35 constituents. “There’s something about bringing a fresh, articulate policy voice and face to this arena. Ryan’s face is probably not what you would call fresh, but it’s still young. That’s good.”

But King reserved his most effusive praise for Rubio. When the senator speaks, King said, “he speaks to my heart in a way that I think is important. He understands ... about the pillars of American exceptionalism, the underpinnings of what made this a great country.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

King appears to like Rubio so much that he’s even spent time analyzing his public speaking style: “When I listen to him talk also, I recognize it, because I do it: I might start a sentence and halfway into a word realize, oops, that’s not going to be exactly what I want to characterize, not exactly the truth. I’ll stop that word in midsentence, and come back, put the adjective in front of it and go.”

Bottom line: “I’m impressed by the depth that he brings on social issues as well as fiscal issues,” King said, adding that the two probably don’t agree on immigration reform.

The Romney campaign is holding only informal discussions about a running mate, according to The Post’s Philip Rucker. Rubio’s name is on the short list, along with several governors and a few other lawmakers, including Ryan. Nobody’s been tapped to lead Romney's VP search, but if that person eventually calls King, they can expect a long discourse on why the junior senator from Florida would be the best match.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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