Power Players

Dinner diplomacy: Sen. Angus King on uniting Ted Cruz and Dems over a rack of ribs

Dinner Diplomacy: Sen. Angus King on Uniting Ted Cruz and Dems Over a Rack of Ribs

Now watching

Next video starts in : 7 Play

Dinner Diplomacy: Sen. Angus King on Uniting Ted Cruz and Dems Over a Rack of Ribs

Dinner Diplomacy: Sen. Angus King on Uniting Ted Cruz and Dems Over a Rack of Ribs
Replay video
Up next

Can The Lone Black Republican in Congress Fix The GOP's Diversity Problem?

Can The Lone Black Republican in Congress Fix The GOP's Diversity Problem? Up next

Can The Lone Black Republican in Congress Fix The GOP's Diversity Problem?

The Fine Print

Angus King may be one of only two Independent senators in Congress, but that doesn’t mean he’s excused himself from the table of party politics.

“I haven't traded lobsters, but I've bought a lot of ribs in here when I have friends for dinner – particularly senators,” the senator from Maine told “The Fine Print” during an interview at Kenny’s BBQ Smoke House in Washington, where he frequently picks up racks of ribs for bipartisan dinners he hosts at his nearby Washington home.

Menu options aside, King said he has a simple agenda for the Republicans and Democrats who sit down for dinner together at his house: Relax.

“The idea is to get us together in a kind of relaxed setting, and a non-partisan setting, because everything up there is always partisan,” King said of Congress. “You get a group of senators together and usually what you end up with is a sort of collective relaxation … telling stories about campaigns and what's going on — rarely policy.”

But relaxing isn’t always as easy it may sound, especially when you consider that King doesn’t usually tell the senators he invites who else is coming for dinner. He recalled one dinner when some guests were caught off guard upon realizing they were about to share a meal with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“Ted Cruz went upstairs at 8 o'clock and called his kids, which apparently he does every night, and it was a nice sort of human touch,” King said. “It's easier to demonize people if you don't know them, and I find this is a sort of pretty good way to sort of try and break a little ice around here.”

As an Independent, King tries to straddle the line between the two parties. And while he currently caucuses with the Democrats, he is leaving the door open to switching sides should the Republican Party win the majority in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.

“I’ll make that decision at the time based upon what I think is in the best interests of Maine,” said King, who was similarly non-committal in the 2012 election, refusing to pick sides until he was officially Maine’s senator-elect.

Even still, King said Republican senators eager to sway him over to the right already have a “good-natured” charm offensive in swing.

“I’ve had a lot of ‘Hey Angus, you’ll like the weather over here’ and ‘love to have you,’ and that kind of thing,” King said. “And then my Democratic friends have said ‘stay here.’”

No matter what he decides come November, King said it’s his Senate class as a whole that matters most.

“I've never been with a better group of people who gets less done. They're good people. They want to do good things for the country, but there's something about the current situation,” King said. “[This is] not a prediction, but a hope, that after these elections we may be able to change the footing somewhat and see a more productive Congress.”

To hear more from Senator King’s interview, including who his closest friends are from both sides of the Senate aisle, watch this edition of “The Fine Print.”

ABC News’ Tom Thornton, Chris Carlson and Gale Marcus contributed to this episode.

View Comments (218)

Recommended for You

  • Husband sets wife on fire in Pakistan 'honour killing'

    A Pakistani man and his father have been arrested in the country's latest so-called "honour killing" after they set the son's wife alight for leaving the house without asking his permission, police said Sunday. Muhammad Siddique became enraged on learning that his wife, Shabana Bibi, 25, had…

    AFP
  • Mark Hamill said he was 'suspicious' of J.J. Abrams

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mark Hamill knew he had to say yes when George Lucas told him about the plans to move forward with a new "Star Wars" trilogy.

    Associated Press
  • Poland summons U.S. ambassador over FBI head's Holocaust remarks

    Poland has summoned the United States' ambassador in Warsaw over an article written by a top U.S. intelligence official on Poland's alleged responsibility for the Holocaust during World War Two, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday. The article by FBI director James Comey, published in the…

    Reuters
  • Ohio woman's search for birth mother leads to co-worker

    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A 38-year-old woman's quest to find her birth mother ended in a surprising place — the company where she works.

    Associated Press
  • Iran leader urges military to increase 'preparedness'

    Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged his armed forces Sunday to increase their "defensive preparedness", denouncing a US warning that military action is an option if there is no nuclear deal. In a speech to commanders and troops, the supreme leader said "the other side with insolence threaten us all…

    AFP29 mins ago
  • Email: Affleck asked PBS to not reveal slave-owning ancestor

    BOSTON (AP) — Ben Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program.

    Associated Press
  • Ethiopia condemns purported executions in Libya of Christians

    Ethiopia condemned Sunday the reported killing of Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya, and vowed to continue its fight against Islamist extremists. "We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians are not," Ethiopian Minster of Communications Redwan Hussein told AFP. Ethiopia's…

    AFP56 mins ago
  • Toddler shot in drive-by near Seattle dies

    A one-year-old girl who was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting near Seattle on Thursday died late Saturday from her wounds, hospital officials said. The girl was brain dead and life support care had been removed, a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center said. Police in Kent, Washington,…

    Reuters
  • Ohio officer praised for restraint, refused to shoot suspect

    NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police officer is being praised for holding his fire even as a slaying suspect charged him, saying repeatedly, "shoot me."

    Associated Press
  • One man's last wish, 'Don't vote for Hillary Clinton.' Will it matter?

    Larry Darrell Upright died this week. "In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children .... Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. We promise not to vote for Hillary," one mourner wrote. A CNN poll released Monday shows that…

    Christian Science Monitor
  • 'Mysterious' disease kills 18 in Nigeria: official

    "Twenty-three people (were affected) and 18 deaths were recorded," the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, told AFP. The government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead. "Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early…

    AFP
  • Diplomacy out, blunt talk in as Obama gets tough on GOP

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Diplomacy is out, blunt talk is in as President Barack Obama and his White House team single out Republican lawmakers by name for criticism over their words and actions on Iran, Cabinet nominations and climate change.

    Associated Press
  • LA Kings' Jarret Stoll released after arrest in Las Vegas

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll has been released from jail after his arrest on a felony drug charge at a Las Vegas resort.

    Associated Press
  • Germanwings crash families could seek damages in the U.S.: lawyer

    By Kirsti Knolle FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Families of the victims of the Germanwings crash are considering filing a claim for damages in the United States if they cannot reach agreement with parent airline Lufthansa in Germany, a lawyer representing the families said on Sunday. Compensation talks with…

    Reuters
  • British royal baby's first A to Z

    From baby fashion to specially-minted coins, here is an A to Z on the birth of Prince William and his wife Kate's second child, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare for their new addition to Britain's royal family. A proclamation will be displayed on an easel at the gates of Buckingham…

    AFP
  • For short-sellers in U.S. stocks, the agony just piles on

    By Jennifer Ablan and David Gaffen NEW YORK (Reuters) - In January 2014, veteran short-seller Bill Fleckenstein said he was readying a new fund to bet on falling stock prices. Despite lackluster U.S. economic data, a world grappling with slow growth, concern that Greece and Ukraine could default on…

    Reuters
  • Sheriff: Cannot yet arrest woman bragging of killing cat

    HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas sheriff said Saturday that he could not arrest and charge a veterinarian shown in a Facebook post bragging about killing a cat with a bow and arrow unless an investigation determines the picture of the dead cat is genuine.

    Associated Press