During CNN's inauguration coverage on Monday's Starting Point, correspondent John King helped bolster President Obama's image as he asked Tea Party Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) if Republicans were "chastened" by Democratic electoral victories.
"The President won an election that many historians say he shouldn't have won, given the high unemployment rate, given the sluggish recovery. He beat your party. Your majority in the House is a little smaller. Democrats gained a bit in the Senate. Are Republicans chastened now?" he asked the Tea Party congressman. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
And CNN's King followed that question up by asking, "Do you feel the Republicans need to change in a second Obama term?" King posed a similar sentiment to Republican Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), asking him if the GOP needed to cooperate more with Obama's agenda.
"Your leader, infamously – famously, infamously, you can pick the word, started the first Obama term by saying his number one priority was to defeat the President. Do the Republicans owe the Americans a more cooperative tone at the start of the second term?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Starting Point on January 21 at 8:11 a.m. EST, is as follows:
JOHN KING: Steve King is a Republican of Iowa. Also a prominent member of the Tea Party Caucus. The President won an election that many historians say he shouldn't have won, given the high unemployment rate, given the sluggish recovery. He beat your party. Your majority in the House is a little smaller. Democrats gained a bit in the Senate. Are Republicans chastened now? Do you feel the Republicans need to change in a second Obama term?
Rep. STEVE KING (R-Iowa): Well I think a few of them are, John, but I'm certainly not. Those of us who won an election, we see our constituents as deserving the best representation we can give them. We won elections, too. So, this is an interesting day today, this peaceful transfer, a constitutional way of the power and vision by our Founding Fathers, and they understood the separation of powers. They knew there was going to be a clash and a confrontation and a struggle between the parties. But we also know we have to run this government. So, it's going to be interesting as this unfolds. This should be a healing day. And then tomorrow morning, we can start that harder work you mentioned.
JOHN KING: Well, let's talk about the harder work. And some of it divides your party internally. Other parts divide his party internally. But there's been a talk that maybe immigration reform is a place where there could be some common ground. You've heard Marco Rubio in the Senate, Paul Ryan in the House, say maybe we can have a bill like George W. Bush, a Republican envisioned, that had legal status, maybe even citizenship for those who are in this country illegally, ballpark number about 10 million. Would a Tea Party member like you support that? In the past, you've called that amnesty.
STEVE KING: Well, that would be real hard for me, and I've defined amnesty, and not many have because they want to have the broader definition when it's convenient. But to grant amnesty is to pardon immigration law breakers and reward them with the objective of their crime. Now, if that's what this bill does, then it would fit the definition of amnesty.
JOHN KING: Could your Speaker survive if he allowed that bill to come to the floor of the House of Representatives?
STEVE KING: I think we'd want to look at the language on that. I will tell you that John Boehner's tone and his body language and everything I heard him say at the retreat in Williamsburg, he and our leadership team was all about how we pull our conference together and work together. I don't think you'll see another bill come to the floor that's got that large a number of Democrat votes we've seen in the past. I think it's going to be a Republican agenda that he drives, and I think it's about unifying our conference.
JOHN KING: What about gun control?
STEVE KING: That's, of course, another situation that's rolling out in front of us. Both of these things, immigration and gun control, I believe, they were -- one of them, the immigration, was launched the morning after the election, before they actually analyzed the exit polls. I think some Republicans overreacted. Gun control, we saw some of the same thing. Those people that wanted to confiscate guns, the anti-Second Amendment people, took an opportunity as soon as the Sandy Hook tragedy took place. Both of these things will be stretched out over time. The prudent thing is, hopefully, we'll come together. And that's the only thing that should get to the President's desk, constitutional, prudent decisions made by the House, the Senate, and the presidency.
JOHN KING: On the day of celebration, Congressman, appreciate your time.
JOHN KING: We're going to head straight up, though, to Senator John Barrasso on Capitol Hill. He's a Republican from Wyoming, a conservative, the chairman of the Republican policy committee.
Senator, let's start this morning. It's a new beginning for the President. He's beginning his second term. Is this a new beginning for the Republican Party? Your leader, infamously – famously, infamously, you can pick the word, started the first Obama term by saying his number one priority was to defeat the President. Do the Republicans owe the Americans a more cooperative tone at the start of the second term?
KING: Forgive me for interrupting, but as we move forward on immigration, your words, are you prepared, and do you think a majority of Republicans are prepared, to support a bill that gives some legal status, whether it is full citizenship or just legal status, to the estimated 8 or 11 million people who are in this country illegally?