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Rep. Peter King: Debate is Donald Trump’s to win or lose

Long Island's Republican congressman Peter King says Long Island is the "center of the universe" Monday night, thanks to the first presidential debate. (Credit: Newsday / Robert Cassidy)

Rep. Peter King said Monday’s presidential debate is the best shot yet for Donald Trump to get Republicans to warm up to the billionaire nominee, the way King has.

“It’s truly up to him tonight. It’s his to win or lose,” King said.

King said the 90-minute debate is enough time for Trump to show a more moderate, presidential side, of which he’s shown glimpses in some televised town hall meetings and one-on-one meetings with GOP leaders. King said 90 minutes isn’t enough for Clinton to reverse her image among critics that she is untrustworthy.

“I’m not anti-Clinton,” he said, noting he has worked closely with her in her tenures as secretary of state and as New York’s junior senator. But King said she has “become too politically correct” and said Clinton showed disrespect for police in clashes with the Black Lives Matter movement.

King in the July GOP convention was one of many Republican leaders who wouldn’t give Trump their full-throated support. “I’m stronger for him,” King said in an interview Monday. “Hillary has become more and more politically correct . . . As far as Trump, I didn’t really know him before the convention.”

But King said he liked what saw in talking directly to Trump and in a top-level national security briefing they both attended.

“He’s totally different, and he’s not putting on an act,” King said. “If you didn’t know who was who, you’d just think he was one of the guys at the table.”

“With him, though, you never know what he might say.”

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