CNN "The Situation Room" Transcript: Sandy Aid


By:  Pete King
Date: March 1, 2013
Location: Unknown

BLITZER: New Yorkers aren't suckers. That's the warning that the Congressman Peter King has for some fellow politicians.

Congressman King specifically called out a fellow Republican, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, in a very blunt e-mail to his constituents. He's outraged that Senator Rubio had fundraising meetings in New York yet voted against the $60 million aid bill for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Congressman King is joining us now.

I think it's more than $60 million. I think it's $60 billion, just to be precise on that. There's a lot of difference between a million and a billion.

So what motivated you to issue this really blunt attack?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Well, Wolf, believe it or not, I didn't enjoy doing it. I mean, I've met Marco Rubio. I think he's a very nice guy. He's a real future for the Republican Party. But I've just had enough of politicians, especially Republican congressman and senators, who vote against aids New York -- make anti-New York speeches all the time, then come into New York and they raise money on Wall Street and the Hamptons.

And in Senator Rubio's case, he's from Florida, which has received tens of billions of dollars over the years in hurricane aid, and yet when New York and New Jersey had their worst natural disaster ever, when I had constituents of mine lost their homes, lost their jobs, the local governments were literally going broke, and yet when our aid package come up -- and this aid package, by the way, put aside all the nonsense. There was no pork in there. The bill would come up for a vote in the House and then went to the Senate, was drafted at the request of the Republican leadership.

We told them, you only put in there what you think is necessary. Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, Mayor Bloomberg submitted what they thought was necessary. The final package was put together by the Republicans on the Appropriations Committee and the House leadership. So there's none of this -- all this talk about pork is nonsense. Senator Rubio voted against it. Never came to New York to inspect the damage, never spoke with Governor Cuomo or Mayor Bloomberg, as far as I know with Governor Christie, he just voted no. As if this is accepted policy that Republicans -- national Republicans could vote against New York.

That's bad enough. Then I understand he's in New York trying to raise money apparently for his presidential campaign.

I was thinking in my case, if I had voted against aid to Louisiana after Katrina, I wouldn't have thought of going to New Orleans to raise money or if I had voted against aid to Florida after a hurricane, I wouldn't have thought of going to Miami to raise money for myself. So I just think it's time that we in New York sent a signal we've had enough. We're not going to allow this to go on where politicians can -- can attack New York, vote against New York. And this was -- we're not looking for a bridge or a tunnel or some special projects. This is life and death we were talking about.


BLITZER: Did you ever -- did you ever vote against any of those appropriations, emergency funding for victims of a hurricane, or an earthquake or a tornado or any kind of disaster elsewhere in other parts of the country? KING: Wolf, I never even thought about voting against it. Of course not. No one -- I don't know anyone from New York who did. I've been in Congress over 20 years and I know with Katrina, within 11 days we had voted $64 billion for Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina. That was within 10 or 11 days we did that.

In New York we had to wait for 100 days, that was during the cold winter, before $60 billion -- $61 billion was voted, again, for the worst disaster we've ever had.

No, I never voted against it, I don't know anyone from New York who did, Republican or Democrat. Never entered our minds. And yet the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress, in the House and the Senate, over 80 percent, voted against this aid package to New York and New Jersey.

And, you know, this isn't some liberal kabow (ph), this was Chris Christie who was the hero of the conservatives last year when they asked him to campaign for them all over the country.

BLITZER: He's not much of a hero apparently among some conservative circles right now, Chris Christie. He wasn't even invited to this CPAC conference that's going to be taking place in the coming days here in Washington. What do you make of that?

KING: That's a suicidal death wish. CPAC to me loses all credibility. You have a governor who is conservative, who's balanced a budget, who's taking on public employee unions, he's pro life and yet he has a 74 percent favorable rating in a Democratic blue state. So here's a person who's shown that blue collar conservatism works, that it appeals to working men and women, that it appeals to women.

And these are the areas where we've been suffering. Chris Christie is doing the job but they said because he fought for the aid for New Jersey, which he was entitled to, the same aid that every other state has always gotten, he won't be accepted. To me that writes off CPAC as a serious force. Should be -- write them off as a serious force. What's disturbing is, this now becomes like the opening inning in the race for the presidency in 2016.

Why do Republicans are allowing CPAC be somehow the door you have to go through to get yourself in the race is wrong. I think Republicans should say they're not going to CPAC. If you can't accept Chris Christie as a conservative, then you're really just asking for another election loss in 2016 and it makes us look crazy in the eyes of the American people.

BLITZER: I guess you're not going to get an invitation to CPAC yourself, Congressman, at least any time soon.

Now there was one headline that jumped out at me from "The Atlantic." "Peter King Declares Civil War against Southern Republicans." This is from "The Atlantic" magazine, the wire that they had. What do you make of that headline?

KING: Well, my wife is in Atlanta, Georgia, so probably my in-laws will be mad at me about that. No. This is not -- what I am concerned about, though, is the fact that other sections in the country, in the Republican Party, seem to have written off the northeast. They take us for granted and, listen, I'm not here looking for sympathy. I don't want to be going around like a third-world beggar asking for money.

But when we had this devastating storm, I was really surprised by people that I work, people saying, go to me with every day, and we're all in this, you know, all one team standing together and suddenly they just one after the other voted against aid to New York and New Jersey when our people were suffering. It was beyond me.

I mean, I couldn't have imagined, for instance, back in 2005 even considering voting against aid to Louisiana or Mississippi. And by the way, a number of members from those states did vote with us. Florida, not so much. And they've gotten tens and billions of dollars over the years. But, no, it's -- I think that we've taken on a -- we have a very puritanical green eye shade, arid approach to politics. Too much -- it's too judgmental. I'm pro life, I'm conservative, but I also understand that I -- I don't believe that I have a biblical knowledge of all the issues facing the country.

These are issues that are not issues that to me should address -- you know, is not asserted to, that the budget has to be balanced in 10 years, we have to do this in 9 1/2 years. We have to have X dollars. The idea is to make the government work the way Ronald Reagan did.

BLITZER: Congressman Peter King, thanks very much for coming in.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

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