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GOP Rep. Peter King wants to protect Republicans from Rand Paul and Ted Cruz
By ROBERT LAURIE - Constitutionalists are dangerous to the GOP ...or something.
For the last few months, rumors have been swirling the GOP Rep. Peter King (NY) had his eye on the White House. Yesterday, he confirmed that he was considering a 2016 run. Speaking to CBS News, he said "I'm looking at it. I have no committee or anything formed yet."
Then, his pseudo-announcement turned ugly as Peter King proceeded to remind conservatives of everything they can't stand about Peter King.
Essentially, King said there are no potential candidates out there who are hawkish enough for him. Indeed, it appears to King that people are far more concerned about their civil rights than they are about foreign terrorists, and we just can't have that. Constitution be damned, Peter King wants to make sure that, first and foremost, we're tough on terrorism.
Specifically, King targeted Ted Cruz and Rand Paul as the most dangerous faces of small-government conservatism.
"They're the only ones who are talking about foreign policy and they are doing it from a very backward point of view," he said of Paul and Cruz. "Basically they seem more concerned about the CIA killing Americans having a cup of coffee in Starbucks than they are about us being attacked by Islamic terrorists."
King said that Paul and Cruz "could be very damaging to the Republican Party and their policies would be damaging to the country, and I don't want over the next year, 18 months, two years, for the Republican foreign policy debate to be dominated by people like Sen. Rand Paul."
If King was just concerned about Rand Paul, this would make some sense. Paul leans Libertarian, has his father's pedigree, and holds strict constructionist views about undeclared war and foreign involvement. While it's easy to rebut the idea that adhering to the Constitution makes us weak, at least one would be able to comprehend the argument.
However, the fact that King also targets Cruz - someone who's never been accused of being sheepish on defense - is telling.
King's playing the pre-election game here. He knows that the pro-civil liberties stance taken by Paul and Cruz is resonating with deeply with American voters on both sides of the aisle. In the wake of the NSA and IRS scandals, a strong constitutional stance will be a major plus during the 2016 race.
It's also a card that a Big-government, pro-gun control Representative like Peter King will never be able to play.
So, he's decided that Constitutionalists have a weak spot when it comes to defense, and he's going to see how well he's able to make that claim stick.
Recent polling shows 47% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and a whopping 87% of Republicans, feel the federal government is destroying their civil liberties. So, with all due respect, King may want to rethink this strategy - or perhaps end an embarrassing run before it begins.