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For months now Rep. Pete King has regularly and publicly attacked the tea party wing of the Republican Party for shutting down the government over Obamacare and sounding soft on national security, but it took his creation of a leadership political action committee to get a response out of a tea party group.
In New Hampshire today on his fourth trip testing the waters for the presidency, King formally announced his new American Leadership Now PAC.
King said he will use the money raised by the new PAC to pay for his travels to fight for a conservative but politically pragmatic Republican Party and to support like-minded Republican candidates.
In response, the Sacramento, Cal., based Tea Party Express – which bills itself as having the largest Tea Party PAC: “Our Country Deserves Better” - issued a press release blasting the veteran Long Island Republican from Seaford.
"Unfortunately, Congressman King is out of touch with the majority of Americans who want to reduce the size, cost and intrusiveness of the federal government," said Tea Party Express’ chief strategist Sal Russo:
The group called called King one of the "country club establishment-types" who lost the White House and Senate to Democrats, and called King’s PAC "an ill-advised organization that aims to reduce the appeal of the Republican Party by promoting big-government proponents."
Russo added, “King has consistently, yet foolishly, pointed the finger at conservatives for the gridlock in D.C. In reality, it has been the ‘politics as usual’ that has kept America swallowed in deficits and debt that the American people want addressed.
"The Sandy relief legislative is a perfect example of the wrong-headed approach by Congressman King. Instead of attacking Democrats and some Republicans for stuffing the bill with pork spending that was not even going to the victims, he attacked conservative Republicans for objecting to wasteful and deceptive spending. It’s that kind of backdoor politics that Americans hate."
He concluded: “Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who Congressman King likes to criticize, are exactly the kind of conservative leaders we need in the party."
The Tea Party Express’ PAC raised $10.2 million dollars in the 2012 election cycle, Federal Election Commission records show. But the PAC’s federal filing says it spent $8.3 million on fundraising, administrative costs and consultants, and less than $1 million on candidates or independent expenditures.
King did not immediately respond to a request for comment.