GOP rep compares Cruz to 'sideshow entertainer'

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said Monday that Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky MORE (R-Texas), who had just announced his presidential campaign, is closer to the “sideshow entertainer” than the “leader of the free world.”

"The Republican Party and the American people have to be able to find a more qualified candidate for president than Ted Cruz,” King said in a statement on Monday. “Shutting down the federal government and reading Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor are the marks of a sideshow entertainer, not the leader of the free world."

King himself has expressed interest in launching a bid for president in 2016, telling a radio host in 2013 that he was visiting New Hampshire because he was planning to run. But he has also said he would consider running to block the conservative candidacies of Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is also considering a run.

“No, seriously, ... I'm looking at this because I see people like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and, to me, I don't want the Republican Party going in that direction,” he said last year.

Cruz announced his candidacy during a half-hour speech at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday morning.

Cruz made it clear he will run on a staunchly conservative platform. He mentioned popular conservative positions such as limiting the federal government’s role in education and indicated he will not back away from his strong opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.