Pete King, who serves New York’s 2nd congressional district as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, has announced his candidacy for the Presidency, making him the first Republican to officially declare himself a candidate for the 2016 election.
King, the former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has worked extensively on issues pertaining to national security. A member of the highly influential Select Committee on Intelligence, King has criticized the growing influence of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s foreign policy views. King said, “This has nothing to do with Rand Paul personally, but I definitely want to keep the party from going the route of what I call the ‘Rand Paul isolationist wing’ of the party.” He further said that Paul’s policies have, “set the Republican Party back 50 years.”
Now in his eleventh term in Congress, the Long Island Republican votes with his party 85% of the time and has a 75% lifetime ranking from the American Conservative Union.
Recently, King supported U.S. military intervention in Syria, but criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the situation. While on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, King said he would vote on giving President Obama authorization to use forces, “in spite of the president’s conduct.” He went on to say Syria’s chemical weapons, “endangers Jordan, it endangers Israel, and that necessarily endangers our national security. I just wish the president had laid this out better. I wish he’d quit backing away from his own red line. And I wish he was more of a commander in chief than a community organizer.”
He elaborated on this campaign-style commentary by saying, “What I mean by that is, he was commander in chief, for one year he said this red line was there. And then the red line is crossed and he sends Kerry and Hagel out all said to basically have an attack. We’re told that Congress is not needed. At the 11th hour he brings in Congress. And then he says it’s not his red line. So here’s a person who’s vouched for it. I can’t imagine Harry Truman or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower ever putting a nation in a position like this on a military policy…. The U.N. is basically a useless organization on these matters and again whether it’s Harry Truman or whether it’s Eisenhower or whether it’s Reagan, whether it’s Clinton, when forceful action has to be taken by the commander in chief, it can be taken. President Obama should’ve taken it and he failed. When the moment came, he flinched.”
Many are already questioning King’s chances of getting the Republican nomination, largely due to his relatively unknown status nationally. Perhaps his main intent is to work to keep the Republican Party from embracing Rand Paul’s isolationism. Either way, while Christie, Paul, Cruz and other Republicans flirt with the idea of a 2016 Presidential run, Pete King was first to declare himself a candidate. Although his chances appear slim, he does at least have thirty-eight months before the election to get his campaign structure in place, solicit donations, hire staff, and get his message out to the American people. This is especially important in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and if he is serious about a 2016 Presidential run, King will be spending a lot of time here.