King: Cantor's loss can't embolden extremists

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday said Republicans can’t allow House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) primary loss to lead to extreme conservatives taking over the party.

“What Ted Cruz did last year was suicidal. I hope that doesn’t become party policy. We can’t allow Eric’s defeat last night to allow the Ted Cruzes and the Rand Pauls or their disciples to take over the party,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“My concern is that the Ted Cruz supporters, the Rand Paul supporters, are going to use this as an excuse to basically stop the government from functioning,” he added. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Cruz led his party last October in shutting down the government, which King said “alienated us from the country” and made those conservatives “more popular” in their districts.

Their extreme tactics, King said, will make it “very difficult for us to win in 2016 and to be a national governing party.” 

Many analysts predict Cantor’s loss means prospects for immigration reform are dead. Asked if that’s the case, King said, “My concern is that a lot of things are going to be dead and pushed to the side…. I think we’re going to see status quo over the next six months.” 

When King was asked whether he expects Cantor to remain majority leader through the end of the year, King said he doesn’t know. King said he is already hearing rumblings of lawmakers interested in taking his leadership position.

“I think that will resolve itself. I don’t want to say anything critical of Eric today. He was a friend. I will say though I was getting texts and emails from other people saying they want to run.”