Friday May 11, 2012 | 01:15 PM

Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Angus King told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that if he's elected he'll challenge rules saying he has to pick a caucus in order receive a committee assignment.

King has been under pressure to announce which party he'll caucus with, but he so far refused to commit to one party. Matthews attempted to press the issue during his interview with King.

Here's a snip from the transcript:

Matthews: Why don't you do something remarkable. You could simply be the one with the vice president that decides things and you go on and say, 'Look, I'm going to stay here in the center and when I don't like things I'll be opposed to them. I'm going to give up all of my committee assignment to earn my independence.' ... Why don't you do that?

King: That's absolutely an option. On the other hand, Chris, I don't want to go down to just stand on principle and be a potted plant. I'm representing the people of Maine and part --

Matthews (interrupts): You could be the judge on everything.

King: Well, yeah, and if I can be effective on behalf of Maine, if I'm fortunate enough to be sent down there, that's absolutely an option. I'm going to look at all of those options and look at the parliamentary rules and whether they can constitutionally (deny him a committee assignment."

Bill Schneider, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, pounced on King's comments. Schneider, in a written statement, said that if King spurns a committee assignment in order to preserve his independence he'll effectively be "half a senator."

"He would be giving up a huge opportunity to represent Maine's interests with federal agencies and throughout the legislative process. The roads, bridges and destroyers that get built in Maine originate in Senate committees."

In the beginning of the interview King told Matthews that he wanted to remain independent "as long as I possibly can."

He added, "To the extent that I can call 'em as I see 'em for the people of Maine, that's the direction I want to go in."

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

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