CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Rift in the Republican Party

Interview

By:  Pete King
Date: July 31, 2013
Location: Unknown

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BLITZER: And Representative Peter King of New York is joining us right now. He's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Thanks very much for coming in, Congressman.

There's a little war of words going on between Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and you as well. And he was irritated by some of your most recent comments when I spoke with Senator Paul yesterday, and this is what he had to say about you.

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SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, what I would say, you know, it's a similar wing of the party, if not the same of the wing of the party. It's the tax-and-spend liberal wing of the Republican party. They're all for blowing up stuff, they're all for getting involved in wars, but they're not too conserved with -- concerned with fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets.

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BLITZER: All right, he was referring to you and Governor Christie, and I wanted to get your response.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, surely, Wolf.

First of all, I don't believe Senator Paul knows what he's talking about. For instance, he was talking yesterday about how he voted against Sandy relief because it was filled with pork such as money for the Alaskan fisheries. That wasn't even in the bill. That was taken out of the bill long before it even arrived in the House of Representatives. So the bill he voted against did not have any of that pork. There was no pork. Every dollar was accounted for.

Secondly, he never visited New York or New Jersey. He never saw the devastation at all, and then he talks about us wanting to start wars. Like somehow people enjoy war? And he talks about wanting to bomb everything? Is that what he thinks our military does?

Wolf, what this reminds me of, someone like Senator Paul and others in that isolationist wing - now, the Republicans had this debate back in the 1930s when you had the isolationist and the Charles Lindbergs that said we should appease Hitler. And the Democrats had it in the 1960s when the anti-war movement blamed America first. And in both cases, it hurt the party for years. Each party was hurt for years.

I'm afraid that's what Senator Paul is going to do with us. He wants to retreat from the world, he wants to isolate ourselves, go back to a fortress America. And when he talks about Governor Christie and me and others who fought hard to get the aid that we needed -- this was a natural disaster and yet every dollar was accounted for. He just perpetuates this big lie, talking about pork and somehow trying to demean Governor Christie when he fought so hard for the state or me because I fought so hard for mine - when he had every dollar accounted for and will be accounted for.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what he would like to do. He would like to reduce foreign aid, for example. Stop the aid to Egypt, stop the aid to Pakistan, and use that money domestically for better purposes. He says that would be smart. What do you say?

KING: Well, first, one has nothing to do with the other. Aid to Egypt has nothing to do with aid to Long Island or New Jersey. They're two separate issues, and he should know the difference between Egypt and Long Island and New York. But as far as (INAUDIBLE) aid to Egypt, Senator Paul claims to be a great friend of Israel. But yesterday the ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Oren, said that continuing American aid to Egypt is essential to maintain the peace process and to maintain the Egyptian/Israeli peace agreement that was negotiated under President Carter over 30 years ago.

So, it's very easy to say cut this, cut that. You can have an intelligent debate about it. But so far, he hasn't shown very much intelligence.

BLITZER: He says a lot of the NSA's surveillance program, which you support, in his word is "unconstitutional." You want to respond to Senator Paul on that front?

KING: Yes, surely. First of all, the NSA program has been upheld by the courts. It does not violate the Fourth Amendment. It has stopped over 50 attacks. They cannot give one example of one abuse over the last 12 years since the program went into effect. So, it's been extremely productive, extremely beneficial to the country, and it does protect civil liberties and civil rights.

I just point out, again, it's a FISA-related program, it's was a FISA -related program that uncovered an al Qaeda cell in Senator Paul's own state of Kentucky, which apparently was going to attack either Fort Campbell or Fort Knox.

So, he just makes these charges about spying and snooping. Again, he makes America the enemy. That again reminds me of years ago when we had the - again, the always blame America first Democrats, and we saw what happened to them until Bill Clinton came along. For 20 years, they were a losing party.

BLITZER: I know ha he's thinking of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. I suspect you are, as well. Maybe Governor Christie, is, as well.

There is a -- there is a -- a real division among Republicans over the heart and soul of the Republican Party right now, isn't there?

KING: Wolf, there is. And I think it's a debate -- it's a debate we have to have. There are certain things more important than party. And that's standing for real principle.

And the principles -- the so-called principles of Senator Paul and Senator Cruz, that's an isolationist trend which will damage our country tremendously. It sets one region of the country against another, the way he tried to do with the Sandy aid.

And what Governor Christie and I -- what we believe in, we realize al Qaeda is the enemy. We realize that there's a terrorist movement out there to kill us and we have to maintain our security and we're not going to pander and stoke up fears of paranoia the way he's been doing by talking about spying and snooping, which was only in his mind.

BLITZER: One final question. Do you still stand by what you said -- I believe I'm quoting you when you said he represents "a fringe element of the Republican Party"? Is that what you said? KING: Yes. This is a fringe. This is an isolationist wing of the party, which I thought that we rejected with Charles Lindbergh back in the late 1930s and early '40s.

BLITZER: Congressman Peter King, thanks very much for joining us.

KING: Thank you.

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