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MS. HILL: (Inaudible) -- expect hugs when presidents meet with leaders of allied countries, but when they meet with leaders of organizations who hate America, in fact line up with our enemies, that's another thing. Yet today Jimmy Carter, greeted by a leading member of the terrorist group Hamas, a very bad guy, who's been linked to the murders of at least 26 Americans, and he reportedly gave Carter a big, friendly hug, infuriating members of the Israeli government, already upset by Carter's trip to the Middle East. They're not the only ones upset. Right here in the U.S. more than 50 lawmakers from both parties have just sent a letter to Carter calling on him to cancel a meeting with the exiled leader of Hamas later this week in Syria.
Joining us now is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, New York Congressman Peter King, and he signed that letter as well. What was your reaction when you found out that a former president was going to meet with a leader of a group linked to the deaths of more than two dozen Americans?
REP. KING: It was absolutely disgraceful. I was disgusted by it. And this is not a Republican or Democratic issue. There is bipartisan opposition to what President Carter is doing.
First of all, for a former president to be meddling in foreign policy is bad to begin with. As a former president, he above all should realize that we have one president, and he's the commander in chief.
But secondly, to be meeting with a terrorist group which is attempting to undermine and destroy our closest ally in the Middle East -- so he's not only defying President Bush, he's also defying the Israeli government, and he's weakening their position. He's giving stature and status to a terrorist organization. And he's also -- by meeting with Hamas, he's undermining Fatah, which is the enemy of Hamas or the opponent or Hamas. This is wrong, and it sends entirely the wrong message to people in the Middle East.
MS. HILL: Now yesterday we asked our viewers for their thoughts on this, and I got to tell you, it was overwhelming. But there were a couple that -- (chuckles) -- everybody was saying, "What's he thinking?" But there were a couple that e-mailed in, and they -- and this was the gist of their comments. They -- you can't come up solutions for problems unless you go and you meet and talk about them. So by going there and meeting with Hamas, face to face, perhaps he will be able to do something that we haven't before. Does that seem legitimate to you?
REP. KING: No, not at all. We have a president -- whether you support the president or not, the president is the voice of America in foreign policy. When Jimmy Carter was president, I don't think he would have wanted former presidents going around the world interfering with his foreign policy. And whoever the next president is, whether it's Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John McCain, we wouldn't be expecting George Bush or Bill Clinton to be going around trying to undermine them.
And the fact is, we have one president, and he has to be carrying out the policy, and especially when you have such a close ally as Israel involved.
Jimmy Carter was a failed president. He was voted out of office. He was disgraced in office. He was one of the most unsuccessful presidents we ever had. Now he's undermining the current president. It's the same as he did, by the way, with Bill Clinton in North Korea. I mean, he is constantly meddling where he doesn't belong.
MS. HILL: Well, as I mentioned, there are both a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats that have signed this letter to send to Carter, saying, please do not meet with the leader of Hamas on Friday. Why does the group that signed this believe he is doing it?
REP. KING: Jimmy Carter -- I think all of us have long since given up trying to figure out Jimmy Carter. I was reading today a statement from Howard Berman, who is the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, very critical of Jimmy Carter, just saying basically that Jimmy Carter does what he wants to do. And in my opinion, Jimmy Carter, his own ego is there. He's still trying to somehow restore his presidency, and he doesn't realize the fact that he was unceremoniously booted out of office 28 years ago because he was a failed president. He's trying to somehow rewrite history or make himself a world leader. He wasn't then, he isn't now; but he's definitely hurting the United States.
MS. HILL: Now, I have heard some say that, you know, one of the dangers of this is that you give this photo op, which Hamas has said flat out, yes, we're looking forward to this photo op. I mean, they understand the PR angle of this. Today, the first thing that happened after that hug was they sent out a press release saying, yes, there was a big embrace, a hug, a very warm reception. Does that have any influence or impact, really, on the worldwide stage? You may disagree with him going there and talking to them, he may not be able to accomplish anything, but does it matter?
REP. KING: Yes, it matters tremendously. It sends the -- a totally wrong signal to the people in the Middle East. It undermines our allies. It -- those factions within the Palestinians who want to side with us, who want to work with us, they see that, it shows that we -- it gives the impression that we're a divided country. They think Jimmy Carter is more important than he is, and it sends exactly the wrong signal. It undermines President Bush. It undermines the Israeli government. And it comes at the worst possible time. It also undermines Abbas and Fatah, who are competing with Hamas. So this is wrong in every way. and he knows that.
MS. HILL: All right. Representative Peter King, thank you so much for joining us again.
REP. KING: Thank you, E.D.