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Sen. John McCain has got Rep. Peter King's back in what both call an intra-Republican Party struggle over foreign policy, national security and terrorism.
So says the right-leaning Newsmax online publication that King said launched his interest last week in running for president to battle the "isolationists" his party, including potential Republican White House hopefuls, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.
But McCain, who won the Republican nomination for president in 2008 only to lose to Barack Obama, stopped short of endorsing King.
"I'm a great fan and friend of Peter King. He's a colorful guy and did a great job as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. And I understand his frustrations about some of the things, particularly, that have happened over here in the Senate," McCain told Newsmax.
"There is a struggle in the Republican Party right now between internationalists and isolationists. That has been true since prior to World War I in our party, particularly after World War II — the Eisenhower wing, the Taft wing, the Reagan wing, an isolationist wing of the party.
"I want to continue that debate with respect for those who disagree, but it is a debate that must happen and the job of people like me to convince the Republican Party and the American people that we can't withdraw to fortress America.
"The greatest example of what happens when America fails to lead is what is happening in the Middle East today as it erupts into a regional conflict, which cannot be anything but bad for the United States' national security interests," McCain said.