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December 16, 2008

King tweaks Caroline Kennedy

In a potential preview of the New York Senate race in 2010, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) took several shots at Caroline Kennedy, questioning her desire to fight for the needs of ordinary New Yorkers.

King will be deciding in the next two months whether to run, and would likely be the frontrunner in the GOP field. He said that his decision will ultimately hinge on whether he feels he can raise the $30 million or more necessary to mount a statewide campaign.

“She has the name. On the other hand, there’s nothing in her background that indicates she’s ready to be a fighter in the trenches for New Yorkers. She’s never been in the political arena before, and being in the arena is tough,” King said in an interview with Politico.

King said he would be emphasizing his middle-class background in a Senate campaign. He has represented parts of Nassau County in Congress since 1992 and has lived there for 40 years.  The son of an NYPD detective, he said his background would appeal to upstate New York voters who are facing tough economic times.

“I’m not going to make it a class warfare thing, but middle-class families would identify with me more than Caroline Kennedy. ... I identify with people in the neighborhoods and communities, and I’ve been a leader on homeland security issues,” King said.

The New York Republican Party has faced tough times in recent years. King is one of only three Republicans in the 31-seat New York Congressional delegation. The state gave Barack Obama 62 percent of the vote in this year’s presidential election.

Caroline Kennedy has been open about her interest in the Senate seat, and has been making calls to leading New York Democrats. King said he doubted that Kennedy would leak out her interest in Clinton's seat without having "reasonable assurance" that Paterson would select her.