Rep. Peter King fears Ted Cruz, Rand Paul stronger
By: Jonathan Topaz
June 11, 2014 07:58 AM EDT
Rep. Peter King on Wednesday said the Republican Party cannot allow Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to take over following House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat.
“We can’t allow Eric’s defeat last night allow the Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls to take over the party, or their disciples to take over the party,” the moderate New York Republican said on MSNBC. “Because this is not conservatism to me. Shutting down the government is not being conservative.”
King has long been harshly critical of the tea party and two of the movement’s major icons, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. On Wednesday, he was responding to a potential party leadership vacuum following economics professor Dave Brat’s stunning victory over Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, a result some are calling a sign of a tea party takeover of the GOP.
When asked whether immigration reform is now dead in the House following Cantor’s defeat, King responded: “My concern is that a lot of things are going to be dead and pushed to the side. I’m concerned that, for instance, that the Ted Cruz supporters, the Rand Paul supporters, are going to use this as an excuse to basically stop the government from functioning. I mean, thank God there’s no debt ceiling vote coming up.”
King said that with the defeat, Congress will likely take up very little legislation until the midterm elections in November.
He added that the government shutdown in October 2013, advocated by many in the tea party, including Cruz, was very hurtful to the party. “It alienated the country, which makes it very difficult to us to win in 2016 and for us to be a governing party,” he said.
King, who has served in Congress for more than 20 years, called Cantor a “friend.” But he said that the House majority leader was likely more removed from his constituents due to his national party obligations and that he largely ran his campaign from Washington.
He would not comment as to whether the defeated congressman would stay on as majority leader until November, but noted that he received texts and emails from members of the party who were interested in taking his place.
As for who takes over for Cantor, either before or after November, King said: “I hope it’s not the Ted Cruz types.”