Adam Kinzinger: ‘Rino’ leads the charge for a post-Trump GOP

On Thursday night, Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican in the US House of Representatives to vote in favor of repealing a government shutdown.

When asked the next morning why he had broken up with his party on the matter, the Illinois congressman smiled and replied, “Because I’m a Rino.”

Donald Trump and his supporters labeled Kinzinger, 43, a Republican in the name of Just after the six-term congressman became one of 10 Republicans in the House to vote to impeach the former president for his participation January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Since then, Kinzinger — an Air Force veteran who flies his own four-seat monoplane between Washington and his hometown county southwest of Chicago — has charted an increasingly Lonely on Capitol Hill. He joined Liz Cheney was one of two Republican members on the congressional committee examining January 6, regularly defying his party’s whip and often appearing on television to speak to Trump.

In an interview with the Financial Times at his congressional office on Friday, Kinzinger reflected on his isolation from the party base that once saw him as a rising star, saying: “Increasingly, The more I feel like a true Republican at last.

“I may be a different person now, but my values ​​have not changed,” he added.

In late October, Kinzinger revealed that he would not be running for re-election for his House seat. Trump cheered the announcement, which came shortly after Anthony Gonzalez, another House Republican who voted to impeach, said he would not run for re-election either. The former president issued a statement that: “2 off 8 to go!”

Kinzinger, a financial conservative and foreign policy hawk, said he still considers himself a Republican. But he did not rule out a political future outside of the GOP, saying: “If this party continues down that path. . . at some point you have to look at it. . . as Reagan famously said, ‘I’m not leaving the Democratic Party; it left me. ‘”

The congressman has openly toyed with running for governor of Illinois, or challenging incumbent Democrat Tammy Duckworth for one of the state’s two US Senate seats – and said he “doesn’t rule out” a contest Presidential election as early as 2024. Either way, he said he will make a decision on his next steps in January, after Christmas and the expected arrival of his child First time with his wife, Sofia Boza-Holman, a former aide to Trump’s vice president Mike Pence.

Adam Kinzinger: ‘[Trump] looking more and more like a madman delivering press releases at Mar-a-Lago’ © Stephen Voss

Kinzinger points to his political action committee, Country First, as a test of his national ambitions. According to the latest Federal Election Commission filings, the PAC has raised just over $250,000 since its inception earlier this year. At the end of the third quarter, Kinzinger’s separate congressional campaign committee and PAC leadership had raised a total of $4 million in the current campaign cycle, including remittances from Country First, according to data data compiled by Open Secrets.

“Country First for me is a good opportunity to say that this is the message we are talking about: defeating toxic tribalism, actually delivering real solutions,” Kinzinger said. “Is there a certain constituency out there? What we have seen so far is yes. ”

Trump has flirted with another White House run in 2024, and his perception of the party has so far kept other Republicans – allies and critics – from campaigning publicly. President. The latest FEC filings show that Trump’s Save America PAC had more than $90 million in cash at the end of June, giving him a big boost should he launch another campaign.

But Kinzinger said he believes an anti-Trump Republican still has a chance to win the party’s nomination.

“You look at where Trump is today compared to a year ago. Yes, he is still enjoying the party. But he looks more and more like a madman sending out press releases at Mar-a-Lago,” said the congressman.

“I’m not sitting here saying we’ve made real progress,” Kinzinger added. “But I’m also looking at it, man, I could see in two years people like him.”

Now, Kinzinger says he’s confident Republicans will regain control of both the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections. But he didn’t insist when he said Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, was “unfit” to be Speaker of the House because of his support of Trump and polarizing members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene .

“When you suddenly become a hostage. . . someone out there is saying crazy things. . . Kinzinger said. “You’re basically going to be the puppet for Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert.”

Democrats in recent days have called for Boebert to be stripped of her committee duties after the Colorado congresswoman made anti-Muslim comments about Democrat Ilhan. Omar. Taylor Greene lost her committee role earlier this year because of the endorsement of conspiracy theories.

“You can get along with people and do things like that. But you have to be willing to take a strong stance because you are now the manager of the People’s House,” Kinzinger said. “When you start breaking the standards. . . that is a level of decency that we cannot allow to collapse. ”

Kinzinger continued his criticism of McCarthy, who he described as an old friend, taking it a step further, blaming the House minority leader for Republicans’ continued embrace of Trump.

“When you see Kevin McCarthy come to Mar-a-Lago and take the political oars and accuse them and bring Donald Trump back to life, I personally think it’s Kevin McCarthy who is the reason Donald Trump is still the way he is. a major political force,” Kinzinger said, referring to a highly publicized trip the minority leader took to Florida weeks after the January 6 attacks.

“That photo changed everything. It definitely changed things here,” he said, pointing toward the Capitol. “There was a silence until he got there, and then everyone was like, oh, yeah, we’re with Trump.”

When asked about the election that took place last month in Virginia, Kinzinger said former CEO Carlyle Glenn Youngkin provided Trump-wary Republicans with a blueprint for electoral success with his successful gubernatorial campaign.

“If you are a candidate. . . you can see how Youngkin did it and model that,” Kinzinger said. “He showed up and gave a chance to people who really didn’t want to engage in Trumpism.”

But the congressman is not without criticism for Youngkin, who, while keeping the former president within arm’s reach on the campaign trail, has also made clear calls to his base, at at one point said that Trump “represents[ed] a lot” about why he is running for office.

“Maybe I’ve gone too far that we need to tell people the truth,” Kinzinger said. “But I’m still uncomfortable telling one group you love Trump and telling the other you want to move on, you know? Is that really honest? ”

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