“What I expect and hope for is an engaging discussion for the conservative agenda for America and to help shape the beginnings of the planks in the platform of the next president of the United States,” King told The Fix. He said he is especially interested to hear potential candidates’ positions on repealing the health-care law and on the intervention in Libya, where he says "there seems to be a split even among conservatives."
The guest list is reminiscent of the one for last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington – a sign of King’s growing clout within the GOP. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will be there, along with Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain and former U.S. ambassador John Bolton.
There will also be panels on health-care, economic policy and the media. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who announced yesterday that he would not run for president, will be the keynote speaker. (Most of the day’s events will air on CSPAN, starting at 10 A.M. ET).
Absent from the event will be some high-profile names: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. King said scheduling issues prevented him from bringing all of the possible candidates together on one day. (Former senator Rick Santorum dropped out at the last minute, citing a family medical emergency.)
If the conference goes well, King says, he hopes to do more through the Conservative Principles PAC in the future -- including, possibly, a debate. He's also hoping to work with like-minded politicians in New Hampshire in South Carolina to bring similar events to those states. DeMint, in particular, could emerge as a kingmaker in his state's primary -- just as King might in Iowa.