Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad told reporters Monday morning that he advised national Republicans to recruit an "Iowa problem solver" rather than "another congressman" to run for the Hawkeye State's open Senate seat in 2014.
The GOP governor's comments come as Rep. Steve King, a conservative Republican, is in the final stages of deciding whether to run for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat.
According to a recording of Branstad's weekly news conference via Radio Iowa, he said there are several Republicans in the state who would provide a good contrast with Rep. Bruce Braley, the likely Democratic nominee. Branstad noted that King did serve in the state Senate, and said his initial comments were a shot at Braley, not King.
But Branstad also clarified that he believes having someone free from ties to an unpopular Congress would give the GOP its best chance against Braley.
"I think having an Iowa problem solver would be much better than having another congressman running for the United States Senate," Branstad said.
Branstad reiterated that he will not seek Harkin's seat, but said he's confident the party will find a strong candidate.
During an April 25 appearance on C-SPAN, King, who expects to make a decision on the race within weeks, said it would be an "uphill climb" for any Republican running for Senate in Iowa. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week that she would not seek the GOP nomination, while other interested Republicans appear to be waiting on King.
"I’ve looked at data. I’ve talked to people. We're very close to a decision," King said on "Washington Journal." "When that’s done I’m gonna either launch forward on a campaign that will be all out or I’m gonna turn around and go back to running a campaign for re-election in the House. I don’t know which, but I hope to be on the ballot in the fall of 2014."