Obama keeps Election Day promise to reach out to GOP, calls Rep. Pete King to congratulate himBY KENNETH R. BAZINET
November 4, 2010
President Obama wasted no time keeping his promise today to reach out to Republicans, telephoning GOP Rep. Pete King to congratulate him on returning to the chairmanship of the powerful House Homeland Security Committee and reaffirming that the war on terror is no place for politics.
"He talked about his commitment to bipartisanship," King said of the "friendly" three-minute conversation that took place at about 3 p.m.
"I told him I thought he handled the Yemen situation very well," King said of the thwarted plot last week to fly explosive devices aboard cargo planes destined for the U.S.
"In many ways, he's followed up on a lot of President (George W.) Bush's policies," King said. "My differences with him are mostly philosophical. I don't agree with him on handling the 9/11 trials, for instance."
King and Obama have a respectful, though at times adversarial relationship. King was a big critic of Obama's stand on building a mosque in Lower Manhattan, along with his opposition to granting suspected terrorists civilian trials instead of military tribunals. Still, the President has called the Long Island congressman at least once before to discuss homeland security matters, and Obama also offered King the ambassadorship to Ireland.
King stayed up all night following election returns and finally put his head down to grab a nap this afternoon, giving his family members orders not to disturb him no matter what. His edict, of course, did not pertain to the commander-in-chief: When Obama called a short time after King fell into a deep sleep, King thought he was dreaming when as a family member tried to wake him him up, telling him Obama was on the line.
"First thing I said to him was 'Hi, Mr. President, How are you doing?' which was probably the wrong thing to say today. He just said, 'I've had better days,'" King recalled.
Exhausted or not, King appreciated the call.
"It was a nice gesture, unless he knew that I had just gone to sleep and that was the time to call and wake me up," King joked.