Congressman Pete King (R-N.Y.) turned down the job as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland because he wanted to be close to his grandchildren and because he had too many policy differences with the current administration, according to a source close to him.
King, who is a second generation Irish-American and proud of his Irish heritage, has no regrets over his decision to turn down the Phoenix Park job, and believes the man who will take on the role will do well for both countries.
“I really haven’t looked back at all,” said King. “Dan Rooney will do a great job; he has a lot of experience with Ireland. He is the real deal.”
King was offered the job by the White House Chief of Staff on the Friday before inauguration (before the ambassadorship was offered to Rooney), and after spending a few days deliberation decided against taking the role.
King did not disclose the job offer, but the story broke in the New York Daily News last week. The Long Island representative thanked the President when they met after his arrival into office and said it was an honor he would never forget. King has a high opinion of the man in the Oval office, and though he does not agree with every decision he makes, he describes him as a "first-class guy."
Cynics might claim the job offer from Rohm Emanuel on behalf of Obama was a means to getting King to vacate his congressional seat, but King is having none of that. Congressman John McHugh, an upstate Republican, was given the job of Secretary of the Army so his congressional seat could be opened up.
“I don’t think I was offered the job to get me out. If I had decided to take it I would have had to factor that in. But in my state of denial I think about the fact that I was offered the job,” said the Congressman. “He is the president of the United States; who am I to be questioning his motives?”