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Peter King, IRA supporter and enthusiastic counter-terrorism advocate

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"It would have been very tough."

After the Sept. 11 attacks, King cooled on Adams, Sinn Fein and even Ireland because of what he perceived as a lack of support for the United States.

"We've not been that close over the last few years; I think they could have done more to stand by the U.S.," King said of Sinn Fein. "I am disappointed. When things did go wrong for the IRA, when civilians were killed, I tried to put it in context, not defend it. But they weren't doing that when it came to us in Iraq or Afghanistan."

He hasn't been to Ireland since the Sept. 11 attacks.

After Obama was elected president, King got a call from Rahm Emanuel, the incoming chief of staff. "President-elect Obama would like you to be ambassador to Ireland," said Emanuel, according to King's recollection of the conversation.

King said he thought hard about it over a long weekend, fantasizing about hosting his Irish relatives at the ambassador's 62-acre estate inside Dublin's Phoenix Park, where the Irish president also lives. But King declined the offer.

"I just felt I would be defending foreign policy I didn't agree with," said King, "and to be sitting there with a bunch of Europeans spouting anti-American stuff, I would have a hard time."


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