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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Rep. Peter King interview (Part 2)

By Jennifer Rubin

Yesterday, I posted some excerpts from my interview on Tuesday with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).

In the rest of our wide-ranging interview, King had plenty to say about the political scene -- past, present and future. As our conversation continued, he disclosed that he seriously thought about a 2010 run for Senate -- and had Caroline Kennedy been the Democrat appointed he "definitely would have run."

He noted that there are 2 1/2 to 3 million more Democrats than Republicans in New York, so with Kirsten Gillibrand in the race, he would have had to "spend every minute of 2009" raising money. With Kennedy in the race, the media attention and money flowing in would have been enormous and, he calculates, "I would have been the beneficiary of some of that." He said he would have relished running against Kennedy as a "working class, Irish guy." As the year unfolded, however, he said he became more certain that the Republicans would take the House and that he could take over as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which has been his "real focus." He confessed, "Yeah, I had some second thoughts after election night."

And what about a Senate run in 2012, when Gillibrand must stand for re-election again? He smiled. "I will keep my options open," he said.

Looking at the 2010 midterms, he considers House Republicans' success in New York to be part of the national landscape. "The national scene sure set the scene," he said. "But we needed to have good candidates. And many of those districts were districts we never should have lost in the first place." He told me: "Once the voters said Republicans offered a credible alternative," Republicans were able to make big gains. But, he said, "we should have gotten" three more seats that were retained by Democrats Bill Owens, Carolyn McCarthy and Tim Bishop (whose victory became official yesterday when his opponent conceded).

King was in Congress when the Republicans won the House majority in 1994 and Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House. The difference between Gingrich and John Boehner (R-Ohio), he said, couldn't be greater. He was blunt: "You do need a speaker who is very sober minded. Boehner will do a much better job than Gingrich." He continued, "John is the perfect person for the job. The only time he becomes the center of attention is when the White House makes him the center of attention." King does not recall the Gingrich years fondly. "The speaker can't take on issue X for two weeks and then go on Meet the Press or Fox and talk about issue Y." He said he "doesn't know how many times" Gingrich's controversial statement pulled the Republicans off track. He recalls that Gingrich used to make speeches ragging on liberal New York. King shook his head: "When you're in leadership, you are speaking to the whole country." He said he is confident that Boehner, by contrast, understands that "the people elected us and at any time they can turn on us."

I then invited him to name his dream presidential candidates for 2012. Without missing a beat, he said: "Chris Christie and General Petraeus." As for the New Jersey governor, King argued, "Chris is solid on conservative principles and come across as a regular guy. He's the guy who you'd meet in the local bar or at a softball game." He recalled that when Christie came to talk to the House Republicans, he got a sustained standing ovation. King made the case that those Democrats who "agree with us 78 percent" of the time would be turned off by an overtly partisan candidate, but that a "regular guy" like Christie can capture key swing voters. But hasn't Christie said he'd have to commit suicide to convince the press corps he isn't running? King laughed. "I think he's totally closed the door, but he's going to Iowa because he hasn't totally closed the door." He said that if Christie continues to impress Republicans "lightning could strike" and Christie could run. As for Petraeus, King confessed he doesn't know for certain what the generals' views are on a variety of matters, but he said that we need leadership on national security, terrorism and defense policy.

Recently, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard floated a ticket of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and General Ray Odierno. King was enthusiastic when I mentioned it: "Paul is a serious guy. But you see him with his kids, and he's got a good sense of humor. He is very knowledgeable about budget matters without sounding like a green eye-shade guy." As for Odierno, King said he met him in Iraq. "He's an imposing guy," King said. "He looks like he's coming across the room to beat the hell out of someone." He added, "And he's paid the price," mentioning that Odierno's son lost an arm in battle.

King, as lively and candid a figure as one can find in the era of blow-dried politicians and boring talking points, will be a key figure in the new Congress. Judging from my interview with him, he certainly doesn't appear inclined to trim his sails or mince words.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 9, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign, House GOP  
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Next: Virginia Democrats go left?



Anna Mahjar Barducci of Hudson New York writes:

Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources[1], according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.


If this is true, it is pretty serious. AND Obama should respond.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

On a potential primary for Obama, Howard Dean says he won't run - however he is still the number one suspect.

Given the history between Rahm and Howard Dean - and somehow Rahm was able to convince Obama to keep Howard Dean out of the administration, Howard Dean can never be crossed off anyone's list.

Evan Bayh would be running as a Centrist - and to the right of Obama, which would make sense from an overall general election point of view.

Obama made a mistake not giving Health and Human Services to Howard Dean.

Clearly, Howard Dean has been behind some of the stirring of trouble for Obama from the left. In addition, Howard Dean deserves much credit for his "50 States Strategy" at the DNC - the groundwork from which helped Obama win the primaries with Hillary, however ironically drew the fight with Rahm, which kept Dean out of the administration.

Obama should have never gotten in the middle of that fight.

Obama should have played conciliation between the two of them. Howard Dean, being a doctor, should have been made Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, clearly that may have been too high a profile position for Dean given the personalities. Perhaps another cabinet position would have worked. Overall, keeping Howard Dean out has been a mistake -

The other thing: What does Obama do if Evan Bayh goes after him from the right and Howard Dean attacks from the left?

That squeezes Obama - and on the surfact, the two may split the anti-Obama vote, however the reality may turn out to be that Obama loses all his idealogical ground.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse


Politically, the democrats are on really really thin ice with the American People if after losing an election, they are going to try to push through any of the liberal agenda.

Already, just the talk over the past month has been massively damaging to the democratic party.

The American People simply do not trust the democrats to do what they say they will do. Pushing through a liberal agenda after losing an election is simply OFFENSIVE TO DEMOCRACY ITSELF.

And yet, all this talk.

The liberals are wrecking the democratic party right now. The ship is sinking and the liberals are still taking sledge hammers out and smashing holes in the sides of the ship.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 9, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse


C'mon, you know there won't be any primary challenge from anybody except maybe Dennis Kucinich, there's nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Dean would never have taken the Secretary job. It's a meaningless post.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Peter King was too discrete to leave out that GOP Bob Turner should have won NY9 from Anthony Weiner. I wonder when anyone will publish the impact of those 195,000 NYC real votes that were in the real final count issued last week on the contests in Queens.

Um, the specualtion on primary challengers is a different thread.

But, I wish J-Ru had asked Peter King about Mike Pence. And whether Steve Levy will challenge Steve Israel in NY2, or Gillibrand in 2012. And about the political future of Greg Edwards who was the real star despite being unexpectedly tied to Paladino...

sorry, am still engrossed over NY.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 9, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

37 Comments on Five Posts so far today.
WAPO isn't allowing JR to opine because they like her,they are using her to market for new readers/subscribers. This ain't Contentions,
Jennifer,I like it that you're here,but if you don't get personally involved in the discussions,this Blog will be a short-lived digression.I'm sure that WAPO didn't realize that Contentions has lost its huge following because of the no Comment policy. If you refuse to Respond,you will never build a following here. The only reason I am commenting here is to see If I can get some intelligent response from Adam,Zoltan,Richie Emmons,54465446,and a few other interesting charactors. Get a backbone, Professorial distancing doesn't work on the Internet.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse


Why thank you, was that in order? LOL

Hey, did you see the rising yield problem?

Where's your hard currency opinion of what happens next with Treasuries?

Also congrats on being semi-retired as I read in the other post. Glad to see you're watching your money because no one else will watch out for it like you will.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Why thank you, was that in order? LOL
Hey, did you see the rising yield problem?
Where's your hard currency opinion of what happens next with Treasuries?
Also congrats on being semi-retired as I read in the other post. Glad to see you're watching your money because no one else will watch out for it like you will.
Posted by: 54465446

This isn't complicated in a way,no matter what,unless we reforma our currency,one of two things happen(as a Business man,this is not rocket science) either we Default on our debt,or we find assets to balance out the Debt. We can obtain new assets by selling them,(how much could we get for Alaska,we bought it from Russia for a few million(a 100 billion adjusted for Inflation)when they needed cash,or we could obtain assets via war Roman Empire style. That's the logic of Debt,a universal economic basic core principle.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse


Well I wasn't expecting you to go there right away. I thought you'd work up to it.

Here's something that you and I will see as a problem but perhaps nobody else. As you know the Fed is still holding untold billions in securities they took in TARP. Many if not most of them are of course mortgage related and underwater. I think the Maiden Lane action against B of A was a tacit admission that these holdings are a real problem.

A rising fixed mortgage rate can only exacerbate these problems, which I suspect might be the REAL reason behind QE2, not employment. Ben has done a helluva job in juggling all these balls in the air. Not sure how much more strength he has left.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 9, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Christie would get the base, but we already know how he will be painted for independents and establishment types. His confrontational style, which is so popular among conservatives, has already caused him to be labeled in the press as a "bully" with a combative style that breeds "hate speech". It's not fair, but a recent YouTube snippet where he doesn't seem to allow the other guy any time to talk, feeds into the "bully" image.

Can a confrontational personal style be sold as a presidential style? Nixon was confrontational, but has any other president in the last 50 years been known for that? Reagan could be confrontational at times because he was soft spoken and good humored most of the rest of the time.

Posted by: TD01 | December 9, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

As you know the Fed is still holding untold billions in securities they took in TARP. Many if not most of them are of course mortgage related and underwater. I think the Maiden Lane action against B of A was a tacit admission that these holdings are a real problem.

On Target 54,these "Assets" are either way overevaluated,or they are hidden "off the balance sheet" Again,sooner or later,the owner of any asset has to take a hit during writedown time if they are overvalued. The QE,problematically,forces down the Asset valuations further/faster as does Inflation. No matter how many games you play,Debt does unwind,then you must default or balance the books.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 9, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

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