New York GOP Representative Peter King and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz traded barbs through respective TV appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the moderate congressman labeling his tea party rival “a fraud” and Cruz claiming he hadn’t even heard of King before last week.
Long critical of the right wing of the GOP, King took specific aim last week at his favorite tea party punching bag.
“Ted Cruz is a fraud,” he declared on June 11. “Last year he induced the Congress to shut down the government, and after they did it he couldn’t deliver at all. Basically he said if the House shut down the government that he would be able to deliver, in the Senate, the ending of Obamacare.”
Cruz brutally dismissed the congressman’s accusation on Tuesday. “You know, Erin,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett laughingly, “I don’t know Mr. King. I never met him. To be honest, I don’t think I had ever heard of him until he started getting on television attacking me. He’s welcome to express his opinions, and he is entitled to them.”
King shot back Wednesday afternoon on CNN. “This proves what happens when Ted Cruz has decided to be the center of his own universe, to live in his own world,” he told host Wolf Blitzer. “To not know who all the members of Congress are, other members of the Senate — that’s really his problem. Maybe if he had listened to me over the years, he’d be a little smarter.”
King noted he was “the third-highest Republican on national television shows” and is on Blitzer’s show “all the time.”
“That shows he’s not watching you, Wolf,” King cracked. “So I think you should go after Ted Cruz for not watching you!”
Both politicians have signaled an intention to run for the presidency in 2016, with underdog King perhaps deliberately targeting Cruz in order to raise his stature as a viable establishment candidate.