CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Government Shutdown and ACA

Interview

By:  Pete King
Date: Oct. 11, 2013
Location: Unknown

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Republican Congressman Peter King of New York is joining us.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Wolf.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: These poll numbers, especially for Republicans, are awful, but they're awful for everyone right now.

The NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, vote to defeat and replace every member of Congress, including your own representative, 60 percent of the American people say, yes, 35 percent say no.

You have been in Washington, you have been around for a long time. Has it ever been this bad, this lack of faith in Congress?

KING: Wolf, I don't think so. And I was here during the impeachment. I have been here during some rough times, obviously here in 2008 during the meltdown. No, I have never seen anything like this.

And I think the numbers are especially bad for Republicans, the fact that the gap between Democrats and Republicans has widened, the fact that we are down to 24. And this was very predictable going back three or four weeks ago, when Ted Cruz started us on this maniacal crusade and started Republicans on this maniacal crusade which it was a dead end. It couldn't go anywhere.

It antagonized the American people and it was a totally fraudulent effort. And now it's time for us to break loose from this and just open the government, work the best arrangement we can on the debt ceiling, which we should have been doing for the last six weeks, rather than getting bogged down and dragged into this morass by Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: You just tweeted a little while ago. I follow you. And you said, "It's time to reject Senator Ted Cruz and reach an agreement as soon as possible."

I must say, you have been predicting these dismal numbers for president -- and you're a Republican -- since the very beginning. You thought it was a major blunder to throw in Obamacare in this effort to avoid the government shutdown, if you will, and deal with raising the nation's debt ceiling.

But it's not just Ted Cruz. It's a whole bunch of other Republicans as well, especially in the House of Representatives.

KING: Yes, there's about 30 or 40 Republicans in the House of Representatives who have tied themselves to Ted Cruz.

Now, I voted against Obamacare 42 times. I want it repealed. The fact is, you don't shut down the government if you don't get your way. You elect more Republicans and you elect a Republican president. That's how you do it in a democratic society.

No, we had a number of Republicans in the House who went against what John Boehner wanted to do. The speaker did not want to go this route. But we had 30 or 40 people who basically said they would bring the House down, they would bring everything to a halt unless this was done.

And Ted Cruz promised that once it got to the Senate, he would take care of it. Well, the fact is, he didn't. I just wish -- Wolf, you mentioned the fact that I had spoken out against this three or four weeks ago. I wish other Republicans around the country had also spoken out against Senator Cruz.

But, rather than stand back, I think it would have helped John Boehner if national Republicans had specifically said this is wrong, not just say that Congress is dysfunctional or the Republicans aren't working, but actually -- you're talking about it's a handful of people who have driven this, and they should have been targeted.

And I hope in the future that's one lesson we can learn and not allow this to happen again.

BLITZER: If this goes on and on, you think it could cost the Republican Party the majority in the House next week?

KING: It is certainly going to hurt us, especially when you talk to Republicans in competitive districts, because they're stuck between a Republican base that could be energized by Ted Cruz with primaries who will cost them tremendous amounts of money to get through a primary.

Then they will have an energized Democrat to run against. In some of these very red districts, even if that person should lose a primary, it's still going to be a Republican who wins. But in the competitive districts that make the majority, districts in New York and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and Ohio, you know, they're the districts that make the majority.

There's a number of members there who are -- who could face real battles. These are good Republicans. These are guys who are absolutely committed conservatives, but they don't want to shut the government down, like Ted Cruz does, and it leaves them vulnerable.

BLITZER: We asked our Twitter followers to send us some suggested questions for you. We got this one. I will put it up on the screen. "Ask Peter King when he is planning to switch parties."

OK. Go ahead.

KING: I actually resent that question. I am a lifetime Republican. I was at Barry Goldwater rallies in the 1960s.

I have a conservative rating of 75 percent. I'm absolutely proud to be Republican. There's nothing at all Republican about shutting down the government when you don't get what you want. There's nothing at all Republican about people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul who want to filibuster against drones which defend America against terrorist attack.

So, no, as far as I'm concerned, those guys are the RINOs. I'm the real Republican.

BLITZER: If you take a look at the government shutdown right now, all the talk about that, it sort of really upstaged some of the glitches in the rollout of Obamacare.

You oppose Obamacare, but lot of people aren't necessarily paying attention to it because of this huge and it's understandable, this huge fight over the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. How do you feel about that?

KING: I think President Obama should send a campaign contribution to Ted Cruz.

He has done more to boost -- to help Obamacare than anyone. The numbers on Obamacare have gone up by about 7 percent during the worse week that it should be having because of such a terrible, terrible breakout that it had. It was just terrible.

And yet all the attention was on the government shutdown. So, again, Ted Cruz wanted to stop Obamacare, they want to defund it. That's what his supporters wanted to do. And instead Obamacare is going ahead, it's being fully funded, and it's not getting the criticism that it should. If anything, its popularity has gone up, which is really, really disgraceful.

BLITZER: Peter King, as usual, thanks very much coming in.

KING: Wolf, thank you. BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.