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John DiStaso's Granite Status: U.S. Rep. King unveils new PAC during NH stop

Senior Political Reporter

December 15. 2013 5:51PM

MONDAY, DEC. 16: KING'S NEW PAC. As he makes his fifth visit to New Hampshire today, New York congressman Pete King will unveil a new leadership political action committee to support candidates, who, like him, believe the United States has an important foreign policy role to play in the Middle East and around the world.

King, an 11-term Republican from Long Island, N.Y., told the Granite Status his new American Leadership Now PAC is focused on the 2014 elections.

His own future is less certain. While he is considering running for President in 2016, "that decision is at least a year to a year-and-a-half away," he said Friday.

But he said he is pleased that "I keep getting invited back to New Hampshire. I'm not inviting myself up there. I keep getting invited back. I'm getting a very good reaction."

King today will speak to a meeting of the Northeast Regional Troopers Coalition and appear as the special guest at a fundraiser for the Committee to Elect House Republicans, both in Concord.

"We cannot wait until tomorrow to address the problems of today," King says about his new PAC in a statement provided exclusively to the Granite Status and to be broadly released later today.

"We have a President who vacillates on foreign policy and squandered almost $400 million on a failed website.

"We need unapologetic American leadership, and we need it now," he said.

King added in an interview that President Barack Obama, "when he does use American power, almost immediately walks it back.

"He talks about how successful his drone program is, and then in the next breath says that we have to scale it down," said King.

King serves on the House Homeland Security Committee and chairs its subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. He also serves on the Financial Services and Intelligence committees.

King said he will use the funds from the PAC to "go out and meet Republicans with ideas similar to mine, and even some with ideas different than mine and to find candidates out there that I can support.

"So it's going to be a vehicle to enable me to help build a stronger Republican Party and work with Republicans that I feel I have more in common with,"King said.

King said that while Obama is "apologetic about American power, you also have people in my own party, like (Kentucky U.S. Sen.) Rand Paul, who says that the United States is an imperial power, that we abuse our leadership and are too active around the world."

The PAC, he said, "is also directed at that, what I call the isolationist wing of the Republican Party."

Overall, he said, "We have to show leadership and not be intimidated by these different groups. I support what (House Speaker) John Boehner is doing in talking down some of these outside organizations," which King believes are trying to divide the GOP.

"We elected officials should show leadership and not be caving in to outside groups," King said.

King said the PAC will be involved in GOP primaries where he has strong support for a candidate.

He said he has no favorite at the moment in New Hampshire's 2nd District U.S. House GOP primary between Gary Lambert and Marilinda Garcia.

But in the 1st District, he favors former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, whom he formerly served with, over former University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis.

King said he had heard about Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster's refusal at a meeting to answer a citizen's question about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

He said he did not know Kuster well but believed that "every elected federal official should be committed to finding out what happened in Benghazi. It's a scandalous situation. The administration from the start has not told the truth about this."

As for his speech before the state troopers from throughout the Northeast, King said that as the son of a 30-year New York City police officer, he has a special respect for law enforcement.

"The state troopers have a unique job. Law enforcement is the first line of defense."


CONSERVATIVE ALTERNATIVES. Our report last week that Republican former restaurateur Chuck Rolecek appears headed for a run for governor spurred interest — and concern, apparently, among Republicans.

We understand that conservative activist Andrew Hemingway has been courted for a possible run, and is considering it, as is Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire Chairman Aaron Day.

Meanwhile, state Rep. George Lambert is dropping his exploration of a run, citing on his Facebook page a recent heart attack, and is part of an effort to recruit another conservative.

Former House speaker Bill O'Brien, who earlier this year decided against a run for Congress, now tells us Lambert and other conservatives have approached him about considering a bid for governor.

"I want to see a good conservative candidate move forward," he said. "As I look at the U.S. Senate and the gubernatorial races, the party has to be given a choice in each of those instances to support someone who is a conservative.

"I really hope that George finds a good conservative candidate. I'll look and see if they come up with a decent plan.

"I'm not going to say yes or no, but I'll look and see what their efforts are," O'Brien said.

He said he perceives "a possible groundswell of support for a conservative alternative, and if they come to me and have a plan, then I'll begin to think about it."


PARTYING WITH JOE. Although veteran Democratic political consultant/lobbyist Jim Demers has announced his intention to support Hillary Clinton should she run for President in 2016, he remains not only on Vice President Joe Biden's Christmas card list, but he is also on the VP's holiday party invitation list.

Demers, along with longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton UNH Law School Dean John Broderick, as well as longtime Biden friend Mary Carey Foley, attended a Christmas party at the vice president's official residence last Wednesday.


FIREARMS COALITION TARGETS BROWN, NHGOP. When former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown appears in Nashua on Thursday for a state Republican Party fundraiser, members of New Hampshire Firearms Coalition are expected to picket.

The group posted a scathing alert on its website last week calling Brown "a gun banning Massachusetts carpetbagger" and accusing the state GOP of wanting to "shut out the grassroots, and sell the opportunity to retake the Senate to the highest bidder.

"And that bidder? Why, it's none other than Scott Brown, the rabidly anti-gun, (former New York City Mayor Michael) Bloomberg-backed former senator from Massachusetts, looking to take his political ambitions over the border into the Granite State."

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @jdistaso.

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