King: Cruz, Paul Trying to Appeal to 'Lowest Common Denominator' Voters
In the wake of the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) slammed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as a "fraud" and accused Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Texas) of seeking support among "lowest common denominator" voters.
"I've been in politics for a long time. But I don't think anyone sensed this coming. And it just shows how unpredictable the business is and how often politics does not always have a happy ending," King said of Cantor's loss, which he said "shocked everyone."
When asked on CNN if Cantor's defeat meant that House GOPs need to choose the most conservative majority leader they can, King replied, "No."
"I think we have to wait for the full analysis. But this is one district. We can also look at Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell won big. We can look out in Idaho when Mike Simpson beat back a challenger by a large majority," the congressman said.
"So, again, it's a mixed. I would say that one of the problems is when you're a leader such as Eric was, part of his job is to travel all over the country. And that keeps you out of your district."
Cruz praised Cantor's defeat as voters expressing "a sentiment that is present across the country, which is that people are frustrated."
King said the Cruz-Paul effect can be stopped "first of all by showing that Ted Cruz, for instance, is a fraud."
"Last year, he induced the Congress to shut down the government, and after they did it, he couldn't deliver at all. Basically, he said if the House shut down the government, he would be able to deliver in the Senate the ending of Obamacare. He knew from the beginning this was a fraud yet he went ahead and did it," he said. "To me, he is dangerous to the party as is Rand Paul. We have someone running around saying he is afraid that the CIA is going to be killing people in Starbucks with drones. I mean, this is -- this is not the type of leadership we need."
"The Republican Party, you talk about frustration, our numbers never went lower than after Ted Cruz led the shutdown last fall. He is the worst thing that can happen to the Republican Party," King continued. "People are frustrated. These are tough times. They need honest answer, honest leadership, not the medicine-man type tactics of Ted Cruz."
"I think it's important for Republicans to go out and go public, go on the media and not be intimidated by these guys, and stand up to them. I'm in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, as are most Republicans and most Republicans in the House. And we can't allow ourselves to be intimidated by people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul who want to appeal to the lowest common denominator."
King stressed that Reagan compromised with Tip O'Neill "when he had to," yet moved the country "significantly in the conservative direction."
"You're never going to get 100 percent. You have to be realistic and you have to be honest with the American people. What the American people are really frustrated with is false promises, and nobody makes more false promises than Ted Cruz."