Republican Rep. Peter King (NY) said Tuesday that the government shutdown is being driven by “probably 30 or 40 Republicans” who believe President Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. and therefore is not in office legitimately.
“There’s absolutely no reason for the government to be shut down,” King told MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews.
Matthews told King that he has heard members of the GOP make statements that they cannot accept the fact the Obama was elected.
“I’ve had members, they know who they are, they say — ‘I really can’t say with my lips that this man, Barack Obama, was legitimately elected president.’ They choke on that,” Matthews said. “How many are there in Congress on your side that represent that rejectionist front?”
“I would say there’s probably 30 or 40 who are like that,” King said. “As there were a number of Democrats who felt that way about George W. Bush, and going back to when you and I first met, Republicans who felt that way about Bill Clinton… This is a very dangerous aspect to our government.”
“What is?” Matthews asked.
“The fact that we have people who are willing to demonize the president of the United States because he’s from a different party," King said. "When I got elected in '92, I had Republicans elected with me who say they would never set foot in the White House for even a social event while Clinton was president … and now, obviously, with President Obama, it’s definitely there."
King is part of a growing contingency of Republicans who are against the shutdown and want an immediate resolution.
GOP congressmen Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa; Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.; and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., have openly questioned the president’s birth certificate, according to ThinkProgress.
House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., even told a conservative radio host that he believes Congress should “revisit” the president’s “validity.”
King has considered a 2016 presidential run as a “cure” to the Tea Party’s ascendency into the GOP.