Rep. Peter King endorsed Marco Rubio for president on Tuesday, rejecting Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz because “Republicans can’t afford to forfeit this race to Hillary Clinton by nominating the wrong candidate.”
King, a 12-term Republican congressman from Seaford, announced his support for Rubio after Rubio edged out Cruz for second place in the South Carolina primary Saturday and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush withdrew after finishing a distant fourth.
“I’m endorsing Marco Rubio because he has all the ingredients for a winning campaign: inspiration, judgment and vision. He can be trusted to deliver real results once he is in office,” King said in a statement issued by the Florida senator’s presidential campaign.
“Most important of all for me, Marco has a thorough knowledge of foreign policy and fully understands the true nature of the terrorist threat,” said King, a hawk on anti-terrorism who is a member of the Intelligence Committee and once chaired the Homeland Security Committee.
King said his first choice had been Bush because he had more experience. But with Bush out of the race, he turned to Rubio, though King had publicly criticized him for voting against federal aid for superstorm Sandy recovery. Rubio atoned, King said, as the only top-tier GOP presidential candidate to sign on to the renewal of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
One factor that weighed heavily, King said, was that Rubio was the only top-tier GOP presidential candidate to sign on to the renewal of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
King said he passed over Trump because he does not have a real foreign policy and Cruz because he takes national security positions that are too libertarian.
King’s support for Rubio follows endorsements by other members of Congress this week, including Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).