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Peter King: In My Heart I Want to Run For President

Peter King: In My Heart I Want to Run For President
Sen. Peter King, R-N.Y. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 02:58 PM

New York Rep. Peter King said Wednesday that his "heart says I want to run" for president in the 2016 election, "but I have to listen to my mind."

"I'm sort of 50/50," King told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the veteran anchor's afternoon cable news program. "I am, again, looking at it."

The New York Republican said he's been to New Hampshire several times, and he will have to decide in the next four to six weeks about his intentions.

"There are several candidates out there, I think, [who] are qualified," said King. "I think I would be the best qualified, but I have to see if the financing will be there, what openings."

King said he also is not concerned about campaigning against his close friend, former New York Gov. George Pataki, who plans to announce his own candidacy on May 28 in New Hampshire.

"That wouldn't deter me," said King. "George and I are good friends, but if I decided to run, I would run anyway."

Also on Wednesday, King said he agrees with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a likely presidential candidate, who has said the United States needs to increase its number of ground troops in Iraq, but that Pataki's statements Wednesday morning about using troops to take out Islamic State training centers might be a bit off-track.

Graham has said he would like to increase the number of troops from the 3,000 who are already there to 10,000.

"I think Lindsey Graham is generally on target," said King. "We need trainers, special operations, working embedded with the Iraqi forces for training purposes and to guide them and to help coordinate the Iraqi army with the Kurds. There's definitely a need for ground troops."

Further, King said that adding troops does not mean the United States would become involved in or lead a ground war.

"We're talking about American troops on the ground for the purpose of training, carrying out special-operations missions, what they did in Syria, and to provide targets so that the air attacks can be much more effective than they have been until now," said King.

On CNN's "New Day " program, Pataki called for additional land troops to degrade ISIS by targeting training centers,  but King said he doesn't think that strategy would work against ISIS.

"I think ISIS is more dispersed than that," said King. "This isn't like in Vietnam, where you had these big targets which could have been attacked or even, you know, large elements like the Iraqi army."

A better use, King said, would be to embed troops with the Iraqi army to help train those troops and coordinate activities.

Part of the issue, Blitzer pointed out, is that the Iraqi military has collapsed under attack from ISIS, and left weaponry behind for the militants to seize and use after U.S. troops were withdrawn.

Even though President George W. Bush did have a time line on troops, "it was clear that he expected and wanted troops to stay there longer," said King. "President [Barack] Obama should have fought harder with the Iraqis to have a permanent ground force of between 10,000 and 20,000."

King says he hates to use a certain term, but when the U.S. left, "the Iraqis lost their adult supervision," and Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki politicized the army.

"If you go back to 2008, 2009, the Iraqi army was a reasonably good force, but after that, once the U.S. was gone and Maliki took over total control of the army, at that stage the army began to fall apart," said King. " So, when the crunch time came with ISIS, most of them just disbanded, threw down their weapons, ran, morale was lost."

But King said the U.S. can use its best trainers to make the Iraqi army a better fighting force.

"Other than that, listen, this is our war to the extent that this is going to definitely involve the United States," said King. "ISIS will use Iraq as a base of operations to destabilize the Middle East and our allies, and ultimately as a launching a pad for attacks on the United States."

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New York Rep. Peter King said Wednesday that his "heart says I want to run" for president in the 2016 election, "but I have to listen to my mind."
peter king, president, run, republican, new hampshire
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 02:58 PM
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