Rep. John Kline, Republican in the Second District serving his final year in Congress after 14 years, criticized the Obama Administration's handling of foreign military crises, elaborated on his recent presidential endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio and visibly worried over the state of the Minnesota Republican Party in a wide ranging interview with local political reporters Monday.
Kline, who was recently in Afghanistan and Kuwait, said President Obama has used a political calculation in capping the number of troops in Afghanistan, leaving commanders without the necessary flexibility to get Afghans the training and assistance they need to defeat the enemy Taliban. Kline said that impression came through in conversations with military officers there, and that he and Republicans in Congress would deliver that message to the White House, with potential legislative efforts to that effect.
"If you're going to be engaged, engage to win," he said.
The seven-term incumbent and retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot was very open about why he endorsed Rubio: Because Rubio can win in November.
"If Marco Rubio is our nominee, we'll win" he said.
Kline expressed some anxiety about the race to replace him in the Second District, which is considered a swing district in the St. Paul suburbs and reaching into rural Minnesota. He showed no particular favor of any Republican and said each would need to show the ability to raise money. Republican candidates will debate Monday night.
He openly criticized the Republican Party of Minnesota as lacking the money or organization to be effective.
Kline offered no specifics about what he'll do in retirement, other than fishing more, training a hunting dog and doing something for money, though he's not sure exactly what, he said.