King Clarifies His Rick Perry Remarks, Could Be 'Dominating Candidate'

In a story this morning about Hill Republicans’ unease with Rick Perry, Politico quoted Peter King expressing some concern about Perry’s cavalier, off-the-cuff attitude in his first few days of campaigning.

“You can’t be calling Bernanke a traitor and you can’t be questioning whether or not Barack Obama loves America, that type of thing,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and veteran Long Island incumbent. “I’ve been with Perry a few times, and I can see how he could project, again, if it’s done the right way. But no, if he continues this, he’ll have a tough time.”

In fact, King told me this afternoon, he was trying to express what a compelling candidate Perry could be.

“Perry, more than any Republican, has the chance to really capitalize on President Obama’s lack of leadership,” King said. “He really dominates a room when he walks in. He’s one of those larger-than-life people. … He is so different from President Obama in that way, in that he is really able to exude confidence and leadership. So it’s up to him.”

King said Perry’s controversial comments — if they can even be considered mistakes — were “mistakes of nuance, or emphasis,” and his strong record on jobs “gives substance to his personality.”

Without prompting, King offered a comparison with the presumptive front-runner, Mitt Romney. “Romney, he definitely shows competence. And he shows he knows what’s going on. He has not shown that ability to really get people worked up yet, which I think Perry can do,” King said.

“More than any of the others, I think he has the chance to really establish himself as a dominating candidate.”

King Clarifies His Rick Perry Remarks, Could Be 'Dominating Candidate'