At least one potential Republican 2016 contender is not running for president. New York Rep. Peter King told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that he has “decided not to run,” citing the growing field of candidates, his commitments in Congress and the challenge of fundraising.
King – who once served as the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has visited some of the early voting states and expressed an interest in running for several months – would have been positioned as more of a moderate with a emphasis on his passion for national defense issues.
“I would love to have the opportunity to run, to go all the way, and I think I can more than compete with any of those that are in there, but the reality is as far as money … the fact that I do have a full-time job now on the intelligence and homeland security committees – it’s just not in the cards,” he said. “I don’t want to be taking up other people’s time. I don’t want to have 19, 20 candidates, whatever it’s going to be.”
The comments reflected similar ambiguity that King appeared to feel about the campaign back in February. He told Luke Russert on Shift by msnbc’s “The Briefing”: “I’m not kidding myself. This will never be easy, and I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but when I see what’s happening to my party, I really get concerned.”
The congressman said he initially considered entering the race after the emergence of Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. King said he felt that those two candidates were “monopolizing the airwaves” and that he had aspired to “counter that.” Now that the GOP field has expanded to 14 candidates, King believes there are enough hopefuls espousing views similar to his.
While King is declining to endorse a candidate at this time, he said Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and George Pataki are the Republicans he is “leaning toward the most.” As for his fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump, King had kind words.
“I think that it’s great Donald Trump is in the race. If it goes further, we’ll see. I like Donald Trump, he’s been good to me. He supported me at rough times when I was being attacked by others,” he said. King added that he believed Trump “is going to add a lot to the race” and that “people are selling him short.”
Two candidates who are clearly not going to win King’s vote are Paul and Cruz. “I don’t like their views – but I understand Rand Paul is a nice guy.”
The 71-year-old lawmaker has courted controversy in the past with his remarks on terrorism and religion. In 2007, he was widely criticized for arguing that their were “too many mosques” in America. Four years later, King held controversial hearings looking into whether there was “radicalization” of the Muslim community in the United States. On the other hand, he had opposed his party’s efforts to shut down the government to repeal Obamacare and has accused the tea party of “hijacking” the GOP.
On Wednesday, he said that while deciding not to run wasn’t “an easy decision” he didn’t want to go off on some “wild dream.”