GOP rep compares Cruz to 'sideshow entertainer'

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said Monday that Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzProtesters confront Cruz at airport over Kavanaugh vote O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate Election Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage 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.