Rep. Peter King: Republicans opposing Trump could cause 'civil war' in party

Story highlights

  • Rep. Peter King says there could be a "civil war" in the GOP.
  • King adds there is hypocrisy in those attacking Trump for 2005 hot mic comments.

(CNN)New York Rep. Peter King said Tuesday that he thinks backlash from Donald Trump's supporters to Republicans withdrawing their support for the GOP nominee could cause a "civil war" within the party.

King was asked on the "Bernie and Sid Show" on 77 WABC New York radio if he thinks that Trump supporters could vote for Democrats in down-ballot races to punish anti-Trump Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who told House Republicans on Monday that he would not campaign for Trump.
    "That is a real risk, absolutely," King replied. "And that's why this could be a civil war because they look upon it as, 'Okay, Republicans are gonna go against Trump, okay, then we're gonna go against Republicans.' Both sides are wrong in doing that. It's like, you know, the old expression your mother said, biting off your nose to spite your face. But that's really is what this is about."
    In the interview, King said Republicans "have to be concerned" about losing the House, but largely defended Ryan, who did not withdraw his endorsement of Trump after audiotape leaked on Friday of the GOP nominee describing how he forces himself on women. King called Ryan a "good guy" and that he understands "where Paul is coming from." He reserved his strongest criticism for Republicans who withdrew their support from Trump after they heard the audio, saying there was an element of hypocrisy in their criticism of the party nominee.
    "I think a lot of these guys who were complaining to Paul Ryan," King said. "A lot of these guys who are nervous. I think they just hurt themselves. And again, listen, there's a certain amount of hypocrisy here, when I hear people on television, including reporters, you know, god, these guys can be real low lives. And they're on there, 'I never heard language like this, I never heard anyone talk like this.' Listen, the language is bad. It's indefensible. But you hear it. Whether it's an army barracks. Whether it's the back room of a TV studio. Whether it's congressmen sitting around a bar at night."
    King, whose district is on Long Island, said Trump might be "too New York" for some Republicans.
    "There are people in the party who they resent the style, they resent the fact that even though he may have conservative positions, he doesn't act like the buttoned-down Republican businessman," he said. "They would love to have guys come in who act very starchy and very aloof and very sophisticated. Trump is too much like, with all his money, he's still too much like the kid on the Queens street corner. He's too New York for them."